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Protesters converge on Waihopai spy base

Published: 4:42PM Saturday January 23, 2010 Source: Newstalk ZB

Anti-war protesters here descend on the satellite interception spy base at Waihopai near Blenheim in the first demonstration there since activists broke in and damaged a spy dome two years ago.

About 50 protesters converged on the base but it was balloons rather than the dome that were deflated this time.

Protester John Minto says the base is not protecting New Zealand.

"This is an American base on new Zealand soil that's not protecting us. It's being used to extend American influence," he says.

When the last protest was held there two years ago, demonstrators were allowed through the gate and up close to the spy base. But now it is firmly locked after activists broke in and deflated the dome in April 2008.

The three men responsible are being tried in March and have been banned from Blenheim.

Security was tight on Saturday but protesters were not breaking any rules this time.

The Anti Bases Campaign claims Waihopai has cost the taxpayer $500 million since it was announced in 1987.

Green MP Keith Locke says the base is used for American spy activities and the secrecy of what happens there must be lifted.

"It compromises our privacy and undermines relations with countries in our region who are being targeted by a spy base," he says.

But there are the likes of pro Waihopai protester Gregory Hine who do not agree with this view.

"We are not all hippies. We don't all believe this is bad and supporting the American war cause. It's here to keep New Zealand security safe and that's not a bad thing," he says.

The spies though were nowhere to be seen