Auckland Labour History Group formed

Auckland Labour History Group formed

Following the successful Trans-Tasman Labour History Conference in 2007, the Auckland committee took steps to constitute a formal Auckland Labour History Group. Members of the Trade Union History Project living in Auckland have also joined the new group. Membership stands at 15. Ray Markey is interim chair, and Gay Simpkin interim secretary of the group.

Discussions about the group have taken place in the context of a wish to form a branch of an overarching New Zealand labour history group. This was timely in the light of recent moves by the TUHP to reconstitute itself. There is also a hope that eventually an Oceanic labour history association, encompassing Australia and the Pacific, might be formed. At present, the group has formed on an interim basis until a national body is established.

The first activity by the group was to organise a celebratory tribute to Hone Tuwhare. This took place in Forde’s bar (a local sympathiser of the Left) on Sunday 6 July 2008, with about 40 in attendance. MP Judith Tizard opened the afternoon, and speakers were Janet Hunt, Tuwhare’s biographer, and Gaylene Preston whose 1996 documentary on Tuwhare was also shown. Steve Abel provided live music. Irish stew and soup complemented the whole.

As part of the Auckland Heritage Festival in September 2008 the Auckland Labour History Group, with the assistance of the New Zealand Film Archive, screened the documentary film Fighting Back. This was made in 1949 by Cecil Holmes after he was suspended from the Film Unit in Wellington for Communist Party membership. Pioneer New Zealand film-maker Rudall Hayward was also involved. The documentary records events of the 1949 lock-out by Auckland employers of the local Communist led carpenters’ union. It recounts the employers’ tactics and shows the response of widespread solidarity among Auckland workers. Cecil’s younger brother Basil who starred in the film, was in attendance.

If you’re interested in joining the Auckland Labour History Group, please contact the treasurer, Susan Verran or download and send in this membership form.