Protesters today picketed the FarmRight head office in Ōtautahi Christchurch to call on FarmRight to cease using
phosphate fertiliser illegally sourced from Western Sahara on the farms it manages. The protest was in solidarity with
the Polisario Front, the Western Sahara liberation movement, who are in the High Court in Auckland today taking legal action against the New Zealand Superannuation Fund
to stop the import of so-called 'blood phosphate'.
FarmRight manages a large number of farms owned by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and is a significant customer for
Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ phosphate fertilisers. The phosphate bought by Ballance is mined in Western Sahara by Morocco,
which invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and has illegally occupied and exploited the country since that time.
Spokesperson Josie Butler stated: "I want New Zealand to do the right thing for the people of Western Sahara. It damages
the international reputation of New Zealand to continue to import phosphate from the occupied territory. It is funding
war crimes. We should be changing to other sources of phosphate and also moving to farming methods that reduce the use
of synthetic fertiliser. I would love it if FarmRight showed leadership on this issue."
Most other countries have long since suspended this unethical trade. "The majority of the local Sahrawi people have been
forced off their land and many are in refugee camps in Algeria," said Catherine Low of Extinction Rebellion Ōtautahi.
"The Sahrawi remaining in their occupied country are subject to persecution and human rights violations. It’s shocking
that we in Aotearoa New Zealand are enabling this."
By buying blood phosphate, New Zealand is the last country in the western world supporting this injustice. Local
fertiliser companies Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients continue to import about $30 million worth of the stolen
phosphate rock annually, with the latest shipment due to arrive in Tauranga at the beginning of November.
Today's peaceful protest was organised by Western Sahara Solidarity Aotearoa, with support from Extinction Rebellion
Ōtautahi, to coincide with legal action being taken in the High Court by representatives of Western Sahara against the
Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The plaintiff argues that the Super Fund is contravening its
Responsible Investment Framework by supporting Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara.