Down here in Aotearoa, sometimes our government likes to be rudely abused by major overseas powers in exchange for cash or trade. In human terms this is called "prostitution".
The Waihopai electronic intelligence gathering base is located in the Waihopai Valley, near Blenheim. First announced in 1987, it is operated by New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in the interests of the foreign Powers grouped together in the super-secret UKUSA Agreement (which shares global electronic and signals intelligence among the intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ). Its two satellite interception dishes (shielded from public view by giant domes) intercept a huge volume of telexes, faxes, electronic mail and computer data communications. It gathers this data from our Asia/Pacific neighbours, and automatically forwards it on to the major partners in the UKUSA Agreement, specifically the US National Security Agency. Its targets include international communications involving New Zealanders. Since 1998, new computers and advanced technology have enabled Waihopai to intercept and process international phone calls, including those of New Zealanders. It spies on our neighbours, people such as the Bougainvilleans and Timorese. The codename for this global operation – Echelon – has become notorious worldwide, as more and more revelations have become public as to the vast scope of its spying.
Because it's a Big Thing, but we are still at heart a nation of farmers and cowcockeys, protestors and local yoof celebrities occasionally break in and are politely escorted off the premises. It's kinda funny to watch the US troops have to not shoot people, because that would cause too much kerfuffle.
Check out the following (sorry, dunno how to link in everything2).
- Some peaceniks - http://www.converge.org.nz/abc/waihopai.html
- a local school - http://waihopaischool.orcon.net.nz/
- zdnet uk mention it a couple of times - http://news.zdnet.co.uk/search?q=waihopai