2009 Rona Bailey Memorial Lecture

2009 Rona Bailey Memorial Lecture

Rona Bailey was an icon of left-wing politics in New Zealand as well as being a founding member of the TUHP Committee.

To acknowledge her massive contribution to both of these causes-and trade unionism in New Zealand-the committee determined after her death in September 2005 that it would commemorate her memory by holding a biennial lecture in her honour.

The Labour History Project has been fortunate to secure the services of well-known historian and writer Dick Scott to give the Second Rona Bailey Memorial Lecture in the Rona Bailey Room at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School at 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, on 3 December 2009, at 7.00pm.

The lecture was followed by Chris Prowse and fellow musicians performing songs from his recently written musical Trouble on The Waterfront.

About Dick Scott:

Dick Scott had a long association with Rona Bailey going back to the 1951 waterfront lockout in which Rona played a leading role clandestinely printing and distributing the watersiders’ pamphlets and newsletters which were banned under the government’s emergency legislation. Dick was both active in, and writing on the dispute in The Transport Worker and this work later evolved into his first book, 151 Days (1952), an account of the dispute and its ramifications for the state of civil liberties and union ‘freedoms’ in New Zealand.

Dick wrote a number of other stimulating New Zealand histories over a 50-year career, covering a wide range of topics: viticulture, local history, Pacific history, farming and business. Many people regard Ask That Mountain, (1975) – a fuller account of his earlier work The Parihaka Story (1954) – the story of New Zealand’s first peace activists Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi at Parihaka as his tour-de-force. My favourites among his other publications are Seven Lives on Salt River (1979) an account of settlement around the Kaipara Harbour, which won a number of awards; and Would a Good Man Die? Niue Island, New Zealand and the late Mr Larsen (1993), a damning account of New Zealand’s patronising colonial rule on Niue in explanation of the chief administrator’s murder. His last book, a memoir, A Radical Writer’s Life was published in November 2004 to enthusiastic audiences. The Labour History Project was instrumental in arranging a Wellington launch for this book in December of that year.

In September 2007, he was awarded the prestigious Prime Minister‚Äôs Award for Literary Achievement in non-fiction. In presenting the award Prime Minister Helen Clark commented that Dick was an independent and original writer of New Zealand history. “Following his own path he has brought new perspectives to a range of episodes in New Zealand‚Äôs past. His Ask That Mountain is recognised as one of New Zealand‚Äôs most influential books. Reprinted eight times, it has brought the events at Parihaka into the nation‚Äôs consciousness,” she said.