Jim Delahunty

Jim Delahunty

Jim Delahunty

The Labour History Project is saddened to hear of the passing of veteran New Zealand activist Jim Delahunty. LHP Chair Mark Derby shares his memories of Jim.

Jim Delahunty – singing up the revolution

In the otherwise dour, joyless and tone-deaf world of Wellington Marxism in the mid-70s, Jim Delahunty was a boisterous anomaly. A man who preferred a party to a Party, he would keep things humming from the corner of the room, only putting down his glass to play his guitar.

But Jim was no dilettante or quitter. He maintained his defiantly left- of-Labour politics throughout his life, in and out of the CP, during many productive years as a PSA organiser, later with the Wellington “Manson-Bailey Gang” and eventually as a genuinely activist Grey Power
member, radical broadcaster and digital pamphleteer. I got my last fiery email from Jim about a week before the news of his death arrived.

As his daughter Catherine explained in our newsletter earlier this year, Jim descended from a tough crew of Irish goldminers who arrived in the Coromandel in the mid-19th century. Their republican and pro- union instincts were expressed at every opportunity, and usually through rebel songs. Jim had a huge stock of these and constantly added to it by making up new ones on issues of the day. A son, Andrew, has inherited his musical gifts and has played harmonica for the Windy City Strugglers since 1968. More recently Andrew performed with Chris Prowse’s terrific musical account of the 1951 watersiders’ dispute, “Trouble on the Waterfront”.

I always enjoyed Jim’s company and admired his tenacious radicalism, but especially the generosity and joie de vivre that he expressed it with. He leaves a huge legacy of memories, music and trouble-making, and a great family to carry them on.

No reira, e te rangatira nanakia, kua noho pumau kei te taha o te ngakau, haere atu ra.