Recorded Thirty-first April 2013
Byron: I'll start by asking the question, how did you become involved in Occupy Christchurch?
Nicholas: I first heard of it on the internet, Facebook of course, when suddenly, there was a lot of interest in what was happening in Wall Street. And I didn't really know what was going on at the time; I was actually on a recovery journey at that time. And then through that journey, actually, I ended up homeless, so I came to Occupy. I basically joined a page and I said I would come along, and found that it was about the 99%. I was interested in what it was about, but I also found that, it was a place for me to, basically, live for a while. So, I heard about it, through people obviously, through the internet, and I found out there's a bit of a revolution going on, in America. Which, it wasn't on television, which was fascinating to me. Because, I mean there were loads of people, when I talk about loads, I'm talking about filling up an entire bridge with people, gathering together and uniting. In America, even in Iceland apparently as well, was it Iceland? - I'm sure that was Occupy as well?
Byron: Related to it anyway. I don't think they called themselves Occupy, but there was definitely a big movement there, with the same concerns.
Nicholas: From what I've heard about it, I haven't looked into it too much, but I've heard they basically started it over, they kicked out the government and said "You guys are not really working, you're not doing what you need to do". And, basically, well, in Christchurch I found that - oh sorry, to answer your question - I heard about it, of everything, maybe around, before the 15th, anyway, of October  and then I ended up living there around, I think, the 5th of November. So, anyway I heard about it on the internet and Facebook, and through keeping up with alternative news that was getting shared on Facebook so I joined up. And that's it really; I think that's it, yeah. Pretty much, I wanted to do that.
Byron: So, you got involved around the 5th of November? What did the camp look like at that point when you got involved, like how many people were there?
Nicholas: There were so many people. It was their first march that everyone had, I think it was the 15th of October, and I was quite out of balance at the time because I was going through the, this is quite personal actually, I was on medication and all that stuff, and I wasn't on it at the time. And I was trying to go without it and I was.... way out of balance, so I was swinging around and just doing what I wanted to do. And the amazing thing there was the acceptance of being able to just do something, I got up on the stage and played with the drums, and people were quite open and caring, they were just like "we know it" when it was probably in the face of the guy who was actually doing the music performance. But it was, yeah the 15th of November or October I hung out there for a while and got to meet people.
Byron: So, you got involved for a mixture of political, philosophical reasons supporting what it was about, but also for, sort of, practical reasons like needing somewhere to stay?
Nicholas: Yeah, there were a lot of people who were actually from or been through the mental health services and that interested me a lot. But, the only thing is, how can you fight against a system when you're actually unwell? Y'know, it's quite contradictory and people aren't gonna take you seriously. And if you're not well, then it's quite annoying but I couldn't fight it anyway, at the time because I was so... in need at the time that I was around people who were really supportive, and really caring, and really holding me, in a way. I ended up doing a bit of help here and there, as a - what was the question again?
Byron: It's just about why you got involved.
Nicholas: Cool. I didn't have a place to stay, ultimately. I was actually in the mental health service, what do you call it, the Princess Margaret Hospital, and there were some really good people there but I had a meeting there that went from a goal to leave by the 5th of November, so suddenly, that's when you're leaving, to when you're going, you've got to get out by this time. What I did was, I was struggling to get support, so I pushed people away most of the time, so in a way it did teach me one thing but what ended up happening was I stayed there, and I tried 'till the 5th of November, I really tried to get a place after that. So, I tried to pull all the strings and all the services, and they weren't gonna help me. So, I was forced onto the street. And basically, I was trying to understand what was happening to me and my body, and people seem to have some understanding in Occupy and to me, I viewed it as sort of, well now I view it as, kind of hippies of the new century. Y'know, like that whole other world, that whole, incredible world full of knowledge and unfortunately, I couldn't really indulge in it as much as I wanted to. But, anyway, that's how I ended up at Occupy, 'cause basically, I was removed from where I was staying and I needed to find a place after that. And there was the night shelter as well, which was supportive of people. However, eventually, they ended up, I don't know what happened exactly straight away in Occupy but I do feel like, my presence there, even though I was supported and I did go to the odd protest, the need that I had, I felt that couldn't be held by all of the people that were there. I felt that my energy didn't contribute to the best of Occupy at the time, and I felt that some of the things that happened there, unfortunately, some of the really dark things that seemed to happen there - my contribution was that I didn't help out, so did I contribute to the system? I mean, that's what felt quite ... it felt quite low, I guess. But, sorry, I kind of went off on a tangent there.
Byron: It's alright. So, you felt like within Occupy, you found a really supportive group of people, but at the same time you felt concerned that maybe what you were putting in wasn't as much as you would've liked to have put in?
Nicholas: That's right, I was supported, I mean, I had people who really did care, and then because I was so ... the part of me that was looking for the care, self-care and stuff, was just really difficult to not get involved with bringing my stuff into it. I still feel quite out of balance at the moment, quite... I'm not quite sure how much of a use I'm gonna be for this, even now I feel as if I can't really contribute, but I want to. I did try, but it didn't feel as if it were enough. But, I did wonder, there was quite a bit of corrupt stuff going on in Occupy, that it seemed to be going on, such as the industries and realising that New Zealand seemed to be just like America, y'know with the corporations and everything. That woke me up to corporations. I was aware of corporations before, but I didn't realise that corporations were sorta the new...
Byron: Held the power in society?
Nicholas: Yeah, well they think they held the power. I've been listening to another speaker that says "they don't have the power, they have our power, we give it to them". Y'know, and why do we do that? Why the frick to we give it to them?
Especially people we don't even know, why would anyone?? I mean, people eat fruit from places they don't even know. Why would you buy tomatoes from China? Why would you take medication that's from another place, that you don't know who's making them, you don't know what's in it, and you don't know what it does to you? It can have a very, very heavy price paid by taking it. I can't believe that I go off my medication, and I can't seem to live without it. Why is that? Because before, I was always able to do things without it. But, I didn't really want to make this about my medication or me so, Occupy is, I think, a combination of the inevitable "Wake Up" that people have. And I'm quite surprised as to how well it did, and I wonder, how in hell did the world do that? But, how did they do that? Because if it were under that much control, why weren't they stopped? Somehow, it just exploded. How did it explode on Wall Street?
One person stayed there, and one person in a magazine wrote something and then the whole world eventually caught on. There was a revolution, but nothing like this before, is there? It's just incredible. I wanted to be a part of it, in a way, and that's how I stayed there for a while and off medication and homeless, Occupy held me and took care of me and I learnt to take it easy, I guess, and really be in the support of other people and I found it really intense. And the amount of people I met, it was just incredible. I suspect that it was a bit crazy, because obviously, it's difficult coming from someone who's been in an unwell state, but there were people there who I met that really consumed me and I wonder where they came from. There was one instance where there were black vehicles, a black vehicle, and it seemed to me, at the time, that there was a siren inside.
Byron: Could have been.
Nicholas: It could have been! And that was incredible to me, if that was real, that was obviously gotta be some kind of intelligence agency, y'know. I wonder, why would they do that? If they really were, that wouldn't be very intelligent, would it? Because, they were in a black van and they would be saying "Hey! We're secret services".
Byron: Plain-clothes police or something, perhaps or?
Nicholas: It could have been that, I dunno. It was interesting, anyway, whatever it was.
Byron: Getting back to something you sorta touched on earlier about, y'know, you learned a lot at Occupy, did you also find it, sort of, an educational experience as well, like being involved there?
Nicholas: Yes. I learnt that there is a real sense of unconditional caring, love... I saw UFO's there, that was always educating, and so did other people actually. It's always painful talking about this because, it's difficult. Maybe people don't need to know that all you need to do is look up into the sky every night as a hobby and you'll eventually see something, if you want to.
Byron: Oh, of course.
Nicholas: Y'know, that was exciting. I learnt that people are strong together, because the energy was really intense sometimes. So intense I couldn't even stand in it at times. Because the collective effort was massive, but I learnt that people can't get anything done if one person doesn't wanna do it. It can affect the whole group, and I made the mistake of not wanting to get involved too much, because I didn't want to take the risk.
Byron: Maybe some of the, I guess, the discussions that were being had there, were you involved in a lot of those kind of discussions that went on? I mean, one thing I have been hearing from other people I have been interviewing is just that it was a real place with a lot of different ideas that were being talked about; do you think you were exposed to some new ideas?
Nicholas: Yes. I didn't know about the [inaudible] trials at the time, I've only recently learnt about them. But, I learnt that the truth is powerful, because even if you don't think it's true, or feel it's true, or know it's true, if you go ahead and try reach it and say it anyway, what you're saying will usually have an effect. That's something I learnt only shortly after I was in Occupy, when I went to Wellington.
Byron: Could you, maybe, talk about the General Assemblies that were there, did you attend the General Assembly's that went on?
Nicholas: The General Assemblies were quite good. I looked forward to those. But, I was unsure about where Occupy was and what it was about, and I learned that what was going on in my head wasn't always reality, so that was a painful wake up call. Not so much in a delusional seeing stuff sense but in a sense that I was a bit a bit concerned or paranoid about the whole Occupy movement in the beginning [that it] was potentially a trap, in that the powers that be just wanted us to use up our efforts and not actually proceed anywhere. And that they wanted it to happen, or whatever, but in the end it doesn't really make sense. But, in the end, I learnt that it's not really real, the fear isn't really real.
Byron: So, you were camping there at Occupy for quite a while, is that correct?
Byron: What was that experience like, camping out in a public place, sort of, in the middle of the city? How was that?
Nicholas: And incredibly intense at times. It was quite cold at the time, I mean, I wasn't taking the best care of myself, unfortunately, but I had support from people there, so I went to stay in tents. I camped with people I considered quite trustworthy, they trusted me as well, which was great. But the difficult thing was that there was so much noise, so much abuse coming from the cars. You were so in the open, it was so raw. You were so, exposed. And it was right by the hospital as well, which was difficult because being angry at the Hospital, what are you gonna do? You're not gonna go up and protest in front of the hospital where people are quite sick. That's a thing you can't really protest against it, in a way, because it's really an internal struggle and if you can get yourself well and then stand up for what you believe is right then that's probably the best thing you can do, and I was a bit of a procrastinator in that sense, or a hypocrite.
But I've found that Occupy had a lot of people from mental health services, who had been there, and they all seemed to dis- some of them seemed to dislike- they may have been through it and not enjoyed it, obviously, because it can be quite a horrible experience. But, there was a lot of support there, and a lot of people there who were going into it. And, I didn't go into it all the way, I was afraid to go into it because there was like a power. Y'know, suddenly, how do you use this power, that we suddenly have? It seemed like this power and numbers, and the opportunity we had and have, still, to do, to deal with all of that. But, what I find sickening is that this system and the industry, seem to make me even more sick. And I gave my power to them, something I regret, I made that choice and I'm never doing it again. Did I answer the question?
Byron: Yeah absolutely. Do you think that the public supported what Occupy was doing?
Nicholas: I think that the public were still, y'know, living their own lives, and they weren't really going to go too much in depth to something that wasn't too much about them, in a way. But I think some of the boy racers woke up, with the police, and there's a sense of corruption happening in Christchurch after the earthquakes. And, the police, held the boy racers in from going out on a race. Not a race, but going out on a charity cruise. Which they were held against their will, unlawfully, for about, it seemed to be for about three, four, five, six hours.
Byron: Yeah, I remember that...
Nicholas: So in a way, that gave Occupy, perhaps an unpleasant, kind of, awareness to them, I suspect, but I dunno. But, I hope that sort of woke people up. There was another, I saw, which was quite disturbing, with the way that Police dealt with people, and the way they... - yeah, it did wake people up to the, to what was going on, because it was so- it was the most central place besides Riccarton in Christchurch, perhaps, that you could get to, well not get to, but it was quite near the city centre. It helped inform people who were walking past Hagley Park, quite a lot and it helped some of the mental health services come down. People who were actually in the services, who were quite great people - gentle, caring people, and they-
Byron: People who worked for the services, you mean?
Nicholas: Yeah, they worked for the services. They came down and they shared and they were great. And not gonna lie, was one of the other people that offered us food. I was a bit wary of accepting, but they were across the road and they came over and helped us out a bit.
Byron: Do you think that Occupy Christchurch was different from the Occupy protests in other cities, because Christchurch had had that experience of going through a natural disaster? Do you think that affected-?
Nicholas: Yeah, big time. Did I think that affected-? Yeah. It affected all of us. There were some really big shakes during the Occupy. And it's quite frightening, because you're right by a big hospital, the last thing you want to do is to imagine that it's gonna collapse. There were some big rolls that were just - it always wakes you up to just how small you feel in the whole mist of everything sometimes. Yeah, the teaching was there, Christchurch has never been the same since the earthquakes because emotionally, everyone was going through a whole lot and the city was lost, in the centre anyway, and it's never gonna be the same. And the people, I don't know... I do know some people didn't want to be involved in Occupy, because they were quote "under enough stress". Nah, they didn't say that but it seemed that some people didn't want to reach out that far-
Byron: They had other things going on, with the earthquake?
Nicholas: Yeah, that's it. And I couldn't stretch that far either, even when I was there. But i did witness some things that disturbed me about some of the police force.
Byron: Oh yes?
Nicholas: Such as, the way they arrested people and people who I cared about who were in the movement, and it was painful. And it was interesting, it was really disturbing too. I just sat there and watched as some guy was getting tackled down. These police didn't seem to care, and I don't know why he did, so I'm not too sure what was going on, the whole story. But, it was that watching a human being seems to lose a sense of power, and that in itself is a very unpleasant thing. I think it's horrible, just disgusting. And other adults who were there, who apparently were there to help people out, they were screaming and running away! They didn't even think to stand there, they just didn't wanna. It just showed me that even the adults in this country don't seem to be in a position to support the younger people. But they can, obviously. But I was, for example, myself, was accused of being someone I wasn't, and they physically tried to bring me down and-
Byron: It was the police that did that?
Nicholas: Yes. I didn't even commit a crime, and they took me all the way to the police station. I mean, they apologized as they sent me to the door, but that was, what, maybe the second time, there was another time. Ultimately, I think that, I don't really know about the corruption thing perhaps that’s a dramatisation of how I was feeling internally, with what was going on for me and I was kinda projecting it out onto others or the circumstances, perhaps. So, I wanna carefully just say, don't - I understand there is corruption out there but I didn't really have the clarity to really say exactly what is corrupted. But the mental health services, I suspect, are corrupted. Not the people, there's some really great people, but I suspect that the way that it's run, whoever's doing the drugs, I'm really concerned about that. Because obviously, I take it. I'm concerned that why should I become dependent on a drug. Shouldn't drugs always be supporting independence? Shouldn't they be supporting a dependence on more- See, if they gave you a PlayStation CD, and put it in a Nintendo, y’know, you wouldn't be able to put it in a Nintendo. But if I gave you the right cartridge, you'd be able to play the console. Use the whole system. So, if I have something that I can take that actually goes in harmony with other things, so I can reach. But anyway, gone off on a tangent there but... I hope somehow this helps out but I'm not sure if I'm even gonna be a very useful interviewee at present, but the Occupy movement fascinated me because of the sheer scale of it. And probably the biggest thing I learnt, in a way, was to, and I'm still learning, is to take responsibility for my own life and that the revolution really begins with me, not necessarily at Occupy.
Byron: So, you think the experience of Occupy has changed you in some ways?
Nicholas: Yeah, the experience and everything changes you in a way, doesn't it? Y'know, it's the harsh lessons were that I've got a lot of changes I need to make, myself. But, yeah.
Byron: Do you think that it changed Christchurch at all? Having that movement here?
Nicholas: In what way? I'm not sure. I think, it gave me a sense of hope. It brought together a community which still communicates with each other to this day. It put its face on the global stage, in a way. It certainly changed me in ways. I've learnt a little bit about the way things work, and I think that kinda helped other people. One of the things that disturbed me quite a bit in the Occupy movement that wasn't so much for the positive; there were some bad things that happened as well.
And that's fucking sad that some of the things that happened there, to me, were disgusting. And I guess, what I tried to learn was that everything is a reflection of myself, even if it's a dark thing. And I tried- I don't really know how to integrate that, if that makes any sense. But I tried to bring myself into the situations that occurred, and I understand that it's probably just best to leave them things alone, but somehow, I feel like maybe I need to go into this. The painful thing is I'm very sensitive to energy and I pick things up, that maybe they come across as smells or whatever, and it's considered delusional and not real. Maybe they aren't real but, to me, what I've picked up there - but any way, this isn't about me so, I won't go into that. But the, the only thing I had there was - why did we let it happen? Why did it happen? Why did this person get harmed? And, oh, I really didn't speak up about it. I didn't know what to say at the time and I kinda felt like, ever since it happened, it was over, from there, in a sense. I guess you could say, I felt the ship was broken and I had to take care of myself in some ways and I didn't take the risk, I didn't open up to people. I couldn't, I didn't know how to. And I still don't really- I know a little bit more, but I didn't express my anger, in a healthy way but I didn't let it go.
I didn't go full into the Occupy movement, I didn't give it everything I had and I kinda feel like, because of that, how much was that affecting what was going on. And I don't want to know if I was responsible in some way because I was on security and I didn't support - I wasn't on security on the day though, so I'm probably being a bit hard on myself there. But, I feel that I didn't really change, so in a way, I didn't really learn much at Occupy, because of my personal journey. Not really seeming to - but again, I'm being hard on myself. But I did learn that there was people that did listen and it was a very very very good opportunity, it was a positive thing and I just hope that it continues to go on and I'm kinda confused, because I wonder what has the Occupy movement become now? It’s become people, the Occupy movement lives with the people, it doesn't live in an object or a statue or a particular building. It's with the people, it seems to be anyway, and that's rippling out.
And that's the tide that's got to turn, but if the tides not turned in me, I can't offer Occupy anything useful. I mean, I can't occupy. I can't occupy, in the movement, because I need to occupy myself and my body. So, that's what I learnt when I was there, but I kinda held back from perhaps the best of the full magnitude of who I was, who I am. And I fear that because I didn't try my best and things that things happened, in a way I was responsible, as we all were for everything that happened, in a way. So, that's what I think is- that may not be accurate though, so... I feel a bit topsy turvy on the whole thing, but yeah, go on. Sorry, not sorry but,
Byron: It's alright. Do you think you'd ever do it again, if there were to be some sort of movement erupts, like Occupy, get involved again?
Nicholas: Yeah, but I'd do it differently. I wouldn't do it the same way, I'd - first try to take care of myself and I wouldn't go into the actual movement and live there. I would stay at home, and take care of myself and still do all the things I need to do so I can be useful, so actually putting out a positive, caring - I'd be caring for the movement by caring for myself, so everyone, in a sense, is already a part of the movement, but they just don't know it. They are contributing for better or for worse. And every single one of us choosing that every day and yet, no matter what we do, no matter what we think, we're always going towards a direction together. And what I fear is, I dunno how accurate this is but, the fence will be burning. Because on one side, there's gonna be maybe a conflict, because if that happens and people keep choosing and then there's a split between that choice where there's total enslavement apparently and then there's freedom for ourselves and then there's that fence that's burning. We're gonna have to choose between what side and that, I think that maybe, what Occupy is, you've gotta choose. But, even if you're physically on the other side, if you're not on the other side in your heart, in terms of where you really stand for the freedom or you stand for the rights of your birthrights, then you could have that taken away because you don't believe you have the power, perhaps. I dunno if that's true or not, but I'm only taking a shot at it, explaining that but, yeah. I would do it again, in a different way. Would you do it again??
Byron: Oh, I think I'd do it again, yeah. But then again, maybe in a different way, like you say.
Nicholas: Oh. Thank you. How would you do it?
Byron: How would I do it? I dunno, but maybe the camp, maybe camping somewhere, it's not the only way to protest, just like marching is one way to protest and, y'know, letter writing campaigns are one way, Occupying was another way and you've got to think about which ways get the best results for particular things.
Nicholas: Protesting is interesting to me because if you protest, how can you win if you're protesting something? Then unless you've got knowledge that you can actually use.
Byron: So, is there anything that you haven't said yet that you'd still like to talk about?
Nicholas: I read on Facebook that you are a known reptilian. [laughs]
Byron: A non-reptilian? Well that's good to know.
Nicholas: The good thing is – no apparently you are- The good thing is, reptilians have their advantage as well, from what I've heard anyway. I've got a little something, I drew this, I put it on before but I -
Byron: I see, so you’ve got –it says Nick and Byron, Occupy, 2011 October the 15th.
Nicholas: It's incredible. Its two years ago.
Byron: It is, it's amazing how quickly that time's passed. So, just to describe this, since there's no video or anything, this is a carved letter O, O for Occupy. And it has on there our names on it, and under my name it says the “known" and known is a quote, reptilian
Nicholas: it's very off topic, “reptilian”
Byron: ‘Don’t worry apparently they’re benevolent. Also’ there's a guy Fawkes mask on the word Occupy, there's a drawing of some tents and trees and the area that looks like a General Assembly, sorta area and it has the dates on there "2011 October 15" and then interview 2013.
Nicholas: It could do with a bit of colour, but Yeah, I'll work on it.
Nicholas: I really do want to bring more to this, however, I just feel that I just can't seem to bring more into it.
Byron: That's fine.
Nicholas: It's a pretty intense environment here, which we're all mad at the moment because I've got some very unpleasant, unfortunate neighbours, but it's a whole learning process anyway. And I'm still learning so, in Occupy, if we are still learning something then we are still occupying something, aren't we? We're occupying our learning. Occupy. Occupy is a word in itself, obviously. In a sense, Occupy has always been there, we just, kind of, became aware of each other, in a way, but anyway, I'm going on a tangent.
Byron: Well, thank you very much for your time and for wanting to participate in this project.
Nicholas: No worries. I hope it’s help in some way. Thank you for your time and thank you for coming out here and thank you for continuing to support the way you do. And, I'm sure that eventually- anyway, go on and change a bit. I hope that people, more than anything, I hope Occupy wakes people up to who they really are. It helps them become who they really are because without that we have got a revolution, we don't have that. But if we blindly forge forward, I don't think we would actually get anywhere. That's a difficult thing, with the reason I tried to step back from Occupy, but it's because I can't really contribute, I don't seem to be able to contribute. But what I want to contribute, which is to help others through their shit. And if I've got my own shit, I can't really seem to step into the shit and come through clean on the other side, so I need to - anyway going off on a tangent. Thank you.