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Posts Tagged ‘petition’

Tell the chocolate industry to sweeten up

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Cadbury New Zealand has announced plans for its Dairy Milk chocolate to be Fairtrade by Easter 2010.  Cadbury’s decision to use Fairtrade cocoa in its popular dairy milk chocolate bars is a compelling example of the difference consumers have made to the plight of poor farmers in the developing world.

However, there is still a long way to go. Oxfam encourages you to:

* Email Cadbury to congratulate them and ask them to switch their entire line to Fairtrade
* Email Whittakers to encourage them to follow suit

For more info on the issue, go here.

Sign On - Climate Change Petition

Friday, July 24th, 2009


Who are they?

An online petition, initiated by Greenpeace, to ask John Key to sign on to strong emissions targets at the Copenhagen conference in December 2009. Over 55,000 New Zealanders have already Signed On, from Lucy Lawless, Stephen Tindall and Cliff Curtis through to Rhys Darby.

How can I get involved?

Sign the petition, spread the word to your mates, and check out other NGos involved in raising awareness of Climate Change Go here to sign up or get more info.

WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature)

Friday, February 20th, 2009

What do they do?
WWF is a science-based conservation organisation that works together with many sectors – government, business, science, environment, community – to find solutions to environmental and sustainability issues.

How can I get involved?
Support a WWF Campaign – WWF often campaign on a current issue in one of their conservation areas. Check the website for current campaigns and how you can help. This usually involves collecting signatures and writing letters to local/national government.
Apply for a Grant – WWF administers a fund called EEAF (Environmental Education Action Fund) which, in partnership with The Tindall Foundation, distributes $50,000 worth of grants each year to environmental education projects around the country. The focus for these grants is on young people taking action for their environment. Grants are not given to individuals, but young people who are interested can suggest the idea of applying to their school or youth group. See the WWF website for more details.

Jubilee Aotearoa

Friday, February 20th, 2009


What do they do?
Jubilee Aotearoa is campaigning to cancel the unpayable debt of poor countries and to end the harmful conditions on loans from the international financial institutions including the IMF and World Bank.  It grew out of a meeting of agencies and individuals meeting in 1997 who jointly campaigned for a special one-off effort to mark the millennium in 2000.  Jubilee Aotearoa continues to meet regularly with government to discuss debt related issues, the agendas and programmes of the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank and from time to time organizes campaign actions.

How can I get involved?
Check out the website: for more information.  Follow the links to find up-to-date international news on the current situation.

Invite a speaker or borrow resources (DVDs and videos).

Write a letter or ask a question of a political candidate regarding debt.  Jubilee is producing some background material and questions which will be available on the website soon.

Join the email list and attend the meetings with government.  Contact: to find out how.

Get Jubilees help to organise a stall, a petition or a local action asking the NZ government to take a stronger stand on debt cancellation.


Wednesday, January 14th, 2009


What do they do? is a community of global citizens who take action on the major issues facing the world today. The aim of is to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decisions. members act for a more just and peaceful world and a globalisation with a human face.

How can I get involved?

Sign up! – Avaaz’s online community has grown to over 3.2 million members in just over one year. It represents people from all nations, backgrounds, and ages. The core of their model of organizing is their email list, operated in 13 languages. By signing up to receive their alerts, you are rapidly alerted to urgent global issues and opportunities to achieve change. Avaaz members respond by rapidly combining the small amounts of time or money they can give into a powerful collective force. In just hours they can send hundreds of thousands of messages to political leaders telling them to save a crucial summit on climate change , hold hundreds of rallies across the world calling for action to prevent a genocide, or donate hundreds of thousands of euros, dollars and yen to support nonviolent protest in Burma.

Public Action: Let the chalk talk

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

By Elliot Taylor

chalk protest against cluster bombsThe sun bore down on Civic Square at high noon on 20 February 2008 as members of the public, diplomatic representatives, and civil society activists joined forces on the warmed cobblestones, their frames outlined in chalk as a visual protest organised by the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition. Delegates rushed to apply sun block after rumours circulated of the depleted ozone layer looming above New Zealand. Placards in many languages were held high — Portuguese, Thai, French, Spanish, Sanskrit, and English. Indian and Pakistani stood side by side with one voice. With her equally powerful voice, Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, let loose from an invisible soapbox and the media loved every moment. In some respects, it was glorious advocacy. Public action as we wish it always is.

Yet what it represented is far less glorious.

“I think it’s disgusting the kind of damage that these cluster bombs do,” said 18-year-old Sam Oldham, after signing his name inside a chalk outline. “I’m definitely hoping that they’ll be banned.”

Lwindi Ellis, PR Director of Draft FCB, whose company dreamt up the public stunt, desires the same. “The more that I’ve learnt about cluster bombs, the more horrified I am that they still exist. I’m hoping that it will be a strong treaty in the end.”

Tania Mead, a 20-year-old student at Victoria University, found the visual aspect of the public stunt especially powerful. “I think this is a really important way of personifying your anger and your frustration that these kinds of weapons are still used with impunity. It’s a really great visual gesture in terms of trying to raise people’s awareness about what’s going on and how to prevent it.”

The simple message of this action needs to be emphasised: imagine Civic Square littered with victims of cluster munitions . Laura, Ian, Shamim, Becky, Elliot. They may have only been chalk outlines, but the names are real. cluster bomb survivors at protest in WellingtonImagine the victims of cluster munitions on the streets of your own capital. For some, that exercise may not be that tough. Still, the question remains, how close do the repercussions of deadly weapons have to get before empathy hits home? An ally? A neighbouring country? Our front doorstep?

The ever-effervescent Margaret Taylor of Amnesty International believes the buck stops here. “No exceptions. No outs. The sanest approach is to ensure that cluster munitions are banned full stop,” she stated firmly, with chalk in hand. “We need to stop seeing, 20 years after a war, people injured because of unexploded cluster munitions. And those victims, those survivors, need to be given recompense and a fresh start in life.”

Justin, a New Yorker residing in New Zealand, has seen first hand the effects of cluster munitions and landmines on civilians in South East Asia. For him the event was a timely reminder of these experiences abroad. “Everyone has a family member who’s either died or been maimed… It’s very traumatic. You feel horrible. It’s probably our responsibility. And if we can try to limit that for the future generations, then, well, that’s why we’re here.”

Phil Goff receieving a ban cluster bomb petition
On the evening following the public stunt, at a parliamentary reception, the delegation of cluster survivors dropped almost 3,000 petition signatures at the feet of New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Phil Goff. Stunned at first, the Minister quickly recovered to thank the campaign for the ringing endorsement of support for his mission to establish the cluster ban treaty. He picked up one of the signed cluster bomb flyers and said, “If every one of these petitions was a vote for the cluster munitions treaty we’ll be on track to get a good result.” And the chalk echoes his call.

This article originally appeared in Cluster Ban News, Vol 1 Issue 4, 21 February 2008.


Oxfam campaigns against Cluster Bombs
Aotearoa New Zealand Stop Cluster Munition Coalition site
Wikipedia entry on Cluster bombs
Human Right Watch collection of documents on Cluster bombs
Heaps of info on
Factsheet on cluster bombs on BBC news site

Cluster Bombs: A Weapon out of Control - Human Rights Watch video on YouTube
A short film documenting the lethal effects of the use of cluster munitions worldwide, with commentary, new statistics and analysis from military experts at Human Rights Watch. The footage shows how cluster munitions have endangered civilian populations from the Vietnam era through current conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon.
Watch a video report on how thousands of unexploded cluster munitions still cover the battlefields and are wounding many unintended victims (civilians) in Lebanon.


Write a letter (you can simply adapt the example one on the Cluster Munition coalition site) asking that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund stops investing in companies that produce cluster bombs such as weapons manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Sign up for updates from Peace Movement Aotearoa at and receive CMC campaign bulletins by contacting

Sign the petition on the Handicap International site calling for a ban on Cluster Bombs


Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Daniel Dearnley

Petitions writing
Petitions have been a tool for change for a very long time. This article looks at the basics of petitions: What are they? How to write them, effective ways to use them, and the rules of petitioning. This article also looks at how the internet can be used for petitioning.

What is a petition?
A petition is, in basic terms, similar to a complaint letter. It is a document containing a statement of views/concerns/grievances/etc. about an issue. It is addressed to a target person or organisation. The key difference is that petitions are signed by multiple people, rather than just the writer. More signatures, of course, means more impact and more chance for change.

How to write one
For a simple step by step guide:

  • 1) Decide what the aim of the petition is — what do you want changed and how?
  • 2) Decide who to petition — who is able to cause the changes you want and are they likely to respond? Or do you want to generally express views and raise awareness?
  • 3) Write it — tips on this later.
  • 4) Collect signatures — this can be either physically signing a piece of paper, hosting an online petition on a website for people to sign’ (often with email addresses etc), or providing documents or text that individuals can sign and then post or email. (See the take action guides on awareness campaigns for ideas on how to promote.)
  • 5) Send it.

Here are some tips for writing effective petitions
Have a clear statement about your concerns and specific demands — PR people love vague and waffling language. If you have an unclear demand it is too easy for the petition target to simply make it seem like they’re moving in the right direction, while not doing anything significant.

  • Be polite (but firm). Being disrespectful or rude is unlikely to get people on your side. If you’re seen as extremist some people will be unlikely to listen to you or support the petition.
  • Make concise statements based on fact. If possible reference what you say. Concise, clear, intelligent, factual statements often have more impact than an extended rant.
  • The demands should be practical — otherwise they will likely get ignored.

Who to petition
This depends on what you hope to achieve with the petition. If the petition wants to create specific change then it probably needs to be sent to a person/organization with the ability to cause the change, and one that is likely to listen.

Common targets for petitions are:

  • Governments — Governments often have a lot of power and influence so they can be well worth petitioning. Democratic governments are answerable directly to public opinion, so they do have to respond to petitions in some way.

However, there is a very complex formal process to submit a petition to a government, which must be followed to validate the petition. This varies depending on which government is being petitioned.

To look at the process required for the NZ government go to their website and follow the petitioning the house of representatives’ link.

Petitioning individual politicians can also be effective and there are less strict rules. Sometimes it can also be effective to petition city councils.

  • Companies — Sometimes people petition companies/corporations asking them to change business practices, etc. This can be effective as companies often have a lot of influence on issues (e.g. McDonalds would have an ability to fight childhood obesity if it wanted to).

The trouble with petitioning companies is that their bottom line is profits, not popularity. Unless a company feels that loss of image will lead to loss of business, all that petitioning is likely to achieve is a nicely worded explanation by the companies PR staff.

Petitioning can be effective as companies generally consider public image important (think of all the money spent on advertising). If a petition to a company hints at a possible boycott, etc. it is likely to be more effective.

  • Individuals - In some (rarer) cases, individuals or non-corporate organizations can be petitioned. As with petitioning companies, petitions will probably be more effective if the target is given good reason to care about what you think.

Online petitions
The Internet has brought about a new trend of online petitions — a petition can be hosted as a website (googling online petition’ will likely bring up a million hosting sites), where people can sign it by entering email addresses (or other details) into an online form. Or people can be asked to sign and send a copy of an email individually to the target.

  • These can be very convenient ways to collect signatures, however there are some drawbacks:
  • Verifying identity is difficult on the Internet. This means online petitions are less trustworthy and generally have less impact.
  • If a formal process has to be followed for a petition to be accepted usually physical signatures are required, thus online petitions are invalid.
  • Serious petitions are often lost among silly ones. For instance a petition that Ashlee Simpson should shut up received over 50 times as many signatures as a petition to the music publishing association not to sue websites offering transcripts of modern songs for the purposes of teaching music.

So how effective are they?
There are some success stories advertised on the various petition hosting websites, but not many. Petitions can be an effective tool for drawing attention to an issue and awareness raising, but more often cause minimal change and are simply stating a viewpoint, which is essentially all a petition can do.