Call Mr Robeson


Call Mr Robeson

The Moorings, 31 Glenbervie Terrace, Wellington

Until 1st March.

Tickets $18/$14 0800 BUY TIX

Reviewed by Daniel Simpson Beck.

Call Mr. Robeson is written and performed by Tayo Aluko. Through monologue and song, he brings to life the memory of a man who the American ruling class would rather we forgot.

Paul Robeson, born in New Jersey, USA in 1898, was a man who excelled in many different areas; athletics, law, singing, acting and languages to name but a few. He won a scholarship to Rutgers University and was one of only two black students thoughout his four years there. He excelled in his studies and became one of the best footballers of the time. But it was singing and acting, in movies such as Show Boat in 1936, that brought him worldwide fame. He was one of the world’s leading concert singers in the 1930s and 1940s. He starred in Othello in what became and remains the longest-running production of a Shakespeare play on Broadway. So why were his name and achievements omitted from countless books about the history of American musicians and actors? In Call Mr. Robeson we learn that it was his passion for politics that lead the ruling elite to try and obliterate him from the history books. [Read more…]

Jai Davis’s Death: Corrections’ Disgrace

Jack Harrison

Jack Harrison, manager of the Otago prison where Jai Davis died. No doctor was called to see Mr Davis.

What is a man’s life worth? Very little, if they are a prisoner. That must be the attitude of the Department of Corrections, as the terrible details coming out of the inquest into Jai Davis’s death at Otago prison in February 2011 make clear.

Anyone with a conscience reading about Mr Davis’s death must feel anguish and anger. Anguish, that a young man’s life was lost in circumstances that were entirely avoidable. Family and friends are left grieving a death that did not need to happen with no sign, years after their bereavement, that anyone will be held to account for their loss. And righteous anger, observing this injustice and learning, with fresh detail each day, of the cruelty and neglect that are normal life in a New Zealand prison. [Read more…]

Condemn Anti-Semitic Attacks on John Key


We condemn the anti-Semitic defacing of National Party billboards reported over the last days. Racism serves to divide the working class, and to distract us from the real divisions in society. As socialists we are opposed to all forms of racism, regardless of who happens to be the target of racist slurs. All left-wing people should condemn these racist acts unequivocally.

[Read more…]

The Easy Rider Tragedy and Capitalist Justice

ImageHarry Johnson, a Socialist Review reader, writes on the very different outcomes of the Easy Rider tragedy and the Pike River disaster in the courts.

The Easy Rider sank in the Foveaux Strait in 2012 after being hit by a rogue wave. One child and seven men, including the skipper, Rewai Karetai, drowned.

Faced with this tragedy, the government decided it needed to prosecute the partner of the skipper, Gloria Davis, in order to send a message to fishing vessel operators of the risks of ignoring government regulations.

Whether or not the message has been heard by the intended audience, it is not the only message to come out of the tragedy, especially when the event is considered in conjunction with the Pike River disaster.

[Read more…]

Victory! Patricia Grace Stops the Government Taking Maori Land


The government has been defeated by the author Patricia Grace in the Environment Court and, seeing the writing on the wall, the government will not appeal.

Patricia Grace owns part of a block of Maori Freehold Land in Waikanae that was once in a Maori village and is full of significance. The government tried to take some of this land under the Public Works Act for its Roads of National Significance programme; specifically the Wellington Northern Corridor. Much of this road scheme will be completely new sections of road running parallel with State Highway 1, causing swathes of environmental destruction. At a time when National keep telling us that government must cut spending, they are throwing billions of dollars of our money to the roading contractors for roads that we do not need. And, it seems, little matters such as pieces of Maori land full of historic significance must not stand in the way of this travesty.

One of Patricia Grace’s ancestors, her great-great-grandfather, was Wiremu Parata Te Kakakura (as known as Wi Parata). Te Kakakura donated land for the railway to run through the area. He also donated land for a government school. In the 1870s, he entered Parliament as the member for Western Maori. In 1877 he famously took legal proceedings against the Bishop of Wellington. The Anglican Church had reneged on an agreement to open a school that Ngati Toa children could attend. He lost, of course, the Treaty of Waitangi being declared a “nullity” by the Chief Justice. [Read more…]

Synthetic Highs – is a ban the solution?

Marijuana-cannabis-joint-smoking-generic-GETTYDrug use harms communities and destroys the lives of people who become addicted to them. Drug addiction is a waste of human potential. So it’s understandable that many people – including Mana Party activists – have been campaigning hard to ban synthetics. They can see the damage cannabis abuse does already, and they see the problems these legal highs bring. But banning synthetic drugs will only bolster the power of the state and the police to imprison even more Maori. Key has only backed the ban because it fits his agenda of blaming poverty on the poor.

Regardless of the intentions of the campaigners, the logic of the “ban drugs” rhetoric leads to blaming drug users instead of the system that breeds poverty, gross inequality, unemployment, and frustration. People turn to drugs precisely because they feel powerless and alienated. We have so little control of our lives that drugs are used to relax, get happy and avoid our problems. And the more frustrated and hopeless we feel, the greater the attraction of escape.

But after watching the Campbell Live coverage of synthetic drugs, you’d be forgiven if you came away thinking that it’s solely a Maori problem. Maori are routinely demonized as part of New Zealand’s racist criminal injustice system.

[Read more…]

Len Brown, Sex Scandals, Stereotypes, and Anti-Asian Racism

LenBrownI am not interested in Bevan Chuang or Len Brown’s sex lives. As a socialist I think private conduct between consenting adults should be their concern and no one else’s. The only ‘betrayal’ from Auckland’s mayor that interests me is from last year is when he betrayed the wharfies.

But media coverage of the last week has played on some deep-seated, and ugly, stereotypes of Asian women. Those do matter for socialists, and for us all.

What became glaringly obvious in the week since the scandal broke was the anti-asian and sexist media coverage of the whole affair. The day after the story broke, the Stuff website ran photos of a suit-and-tie Brown, next to a photo of Chuang in a cosplay outfit. As a recent failed candidate for the Auckland Council, there were undoubtedly a plethora of photos that the site could choose from showing her in business or formal wear. But no, they needed to hammer home the stereotype of the China Girl. Salacious profiles, and old stories of her plans for a ‘Dragon Baby’ lent further Orientalising atmosphere to the whole fake ‘scandal.’ [Read more…]

Free Teina Pora now!

freeteina-BANNER1When Pora was 17, in 1994, he was arrested by police in Otara and held in custody and questioned for over four days without a lawyer. The police got him to confess to a brutal rape and murder. He was charged and convicted despite the fact that he could not identify what the victim looked like or where and what her house looked like. During the trial prosecution witnesses were paid up to $5000 each by police to testify.

The real killer is believed to be Malcolm Rewa, who was jailed for other offences in 1998. But Pora has remained behind bars for 21 years. It is a clear case of the Police making someone take the fall, and railroading them into jail. [Read more…]

Demand Justice for Trayvon Martin


“Open season […] after a verdict like this”: that’s how Gary Younge describes the situation. “Let it be noted that on this day, Saturday 13 July 2013, it was still deemed legal in the US to chase and then shoot dead an unarmed young black man on his way home from the store because you didn’t like the look of him.”

Protests drawing in tens of thousands are taking place across the United States, expressing outrage at the acquittal of a racist killer. The verdict has been passed on American racism.

Mana on campus called a snap action outside the US High Commission in Auckland this evening, and we were proud to stand in solidarity with all those protesting this criminal injustice in the United States and abroad.

US socialist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor ends her response to the acquittal with these powerful words from Martin Luther King:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Racism – Alive and Dangerous

Kyle Chapman - Racist thug

The past couple of days have made me sick to the very core. First a racist cartoon blaming individuals for poverty and a widespread response which claimed ‘it’s just a joke’ and now the news that a neo-nazi group ‘Right Wing Resistance’ is trying to set up branches around the country.

As times get more desperate and people start feeling the brunt of economic hard times, people start looking round for something to blame. Racism is a tool to focus the anger of everyday people away from the people responsible for creating the hard times – government and city council cutbacks and bosses that lay people off, slumlords and profiteering power companies – and onto other, even worse-off, sections of society.

The cartoon in the Marlborough Express yesterday last week was an example of how racism is used to divide the working class.

[Read more…]


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