Celebrating The Māori Organisation on Human Rights

MOOHR Peoples Voice

Image credit: People’s Voice 1968

When we honour the great revival in Māori struggle that burst out in the 1970s, the Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland-initiated Ngā Tamatoa – with their dramatic protest actions and Black Panther-inspired flair – are the group who most often come to mind. They deserve all the recognition they have got, certainly, but we should remember also the myriad other protest and campaigning groups that emerged across the country in the 1960s. There was Te Hokioi, a newsletter publicising cases of injustice and grievance. And, coming out of Wellington, there was the Maori Organisation on Human Rights (MOOHR), a pioneering educational and agitational grouping. MOOHR’s story shows how the fight for Māori liberation is at the heart of working-class history and organisation in Aotearoa.



In the decades following the Second World War there was a boom in the New Zealand economy, and businesses found themselves with labour shortages as they tried to keep up with rapid economic growth. This led to big growth in cities and urban centres, and a huge migration of Māori from the countryside to the city. It was a massive, and rapid, transformation. Young Māori found themselves in unfamiliar cities, separated from whānau and familiar ways of life, and concentrated in the lowest paid and most difficult work. The experience was both alienating and exhilarating. Alienating, as ties of language, iwi connection and identity were torn away in the racist city setting. And exhilarating, as young people found friendship connections, sometimes money, and new independence in urban life.

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Strikes are Back: Victory to the Health Workers!

nursing-union-members-protest-outside-auckland-hospital-on-thursday-ahead-of-potential-strike-action-photo_jason-oxenham_nzhBy Martin Gregory

After a long slumber, the working class is awakening. In the first half of this year there was a smattering of industrial action, more than for years. The stirrings are hesitant. The actions, typically, limited to just hours or days. What more could we expect when it’s been decades since the unions used their now atrophied muscles? But this is the start of a revival. Young workers are tasting their power for the first time. They don’t carry the baggage of our defeats long ago. Today’s workers are learning valuable lessons from their first tentative actions that they will put to use tomorrow in bolder, more resolute strikes; strikes that win.


There has not been a strike at the Inland Revenue for 22 years, but on Monday PSA members there and at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment struck from 1pm to 3pm. This was a nation-wide strike involving over 4,000 workers. The biggest concentration was in the capital where about 500 marched. All around the country there were marches and rallies. The demands: across the board pay rises and an end to unfair pay systems that give management control over an individual’s pay. Another 2-hour stoppage is planned for 23 July. The PSA is currently handling a big increase in membership applications.

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José Carlos Mariátegui

mariateguiBy Romany Tasker-Poland

José Carlos Mariátegui was born in Perú in 1894. While his father was of an old, elite family, José Carlos was raised in relative poverty by his mother and grandparents. Having had very little schooling, Mariátegui was apprenticed as a printer’s assistant at age 15. From these humble beginnings, he would go on to become a leader of the Socialist movement in Perú during a time when crucial political questions were playing out across the globe.
In the early 20th Century saw rebellion across Perú. The growing working class launched mass strike movements in 1912 and 1918 for the 8-hour working day. In 1919 there were mass protests against food shortages caused by WWI. There were rural uprisings of the indigenous people, such as the 1915 uprising against landlords that briefly declared an independent Indigenous state. In the same period, a student movement demanding reform of the medieval, elitist universities was launched from Argentina and spread across South America. These student movements converged with workers struggles, and later established popular universities where workers attended free lectures.
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Retail workers deserve a Living Wage

35123910_1933549366656599_6536482093235437568_nBy Tara Dalefield


First Union members braved the chilly weather to attend simultaneous picket lines outsider Farmer’s stores in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch last week. The dozens of workers who showed up to the Queen Street on Farmer’s made their demands quite clear: a living wage, and an end to performance pay.

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Fair Pay Agreements: the good, the bad, and the ugly

By Martin Gregory


Labour’s Iain Lees-Galloway with a revenant from the grave of Ruthenasia.


Out of all of Labour’s pre-election pledges the commitment to introduce Fair Pay Agreements sounded the most radical. Labour said FPAs would prevent a competitive ‘race to the bottom’ in pay and conditions – a laudable aim to be sure. FPAs would set basic terms and conditions across an industry. There would be nothing to stop local collective agreements improving upon the set floor. Labour said FPAs would be negotiated between businesses and unions within industries: it sounded like national collective bargaining. The pledge was vague on how an FPA would be initiated: the policy just said negotiations would begin once a sufficient percentage of employers or employees within an industry call for one. I can’t imagine employers calling for an end to the race to the bottom, therefore a critical matter would be the percentage of workers required to constitute a valid call.

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University of Otago shuts down free speech: students organise


Critic editors and staff writers.

by Guy McCallum and Andrew Tait


Sudden explosions of struggle can seem to come from nowhere. The last time Otago students rose up in any way, albeit a chaotic and apolitical way, was the last Undie 500 riot in 2010. Several hundred students at various parties in North Dunedin, sick of being provoked and harassed by police pushed back. The police lost control of the streets and students proved yet again there is strength in numbers. But fighting for the right to party is not enough. The anti-student Voluntary Student Membership Act became law in 2012 with little opposition.


In that time when it seemed that students had gone silent, CCTV cameras have been installed despite lack of consultation or transparency, Humanities and PE have been cut in half under the same anti-democratic conditions. Support staff are being told to leave and with them will go years of institutional knowledge and will end valuable contributions that could have been kept. Changes to Student Health went ahead, and organised attempts by students to open up the discussion were undermined by management. Steadily the rage has built up.

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Auckland students for a new university

32498259_297052274165676_8858720946828083200_nBy Gowan Ditchburn


The proposed closure of the specialist libraries at the University of Auckland has become an important and much discussed matter. High school students are informing their teachers about how the University of Auckland isn’t putting enough money towards its libraries, something it appears the university’s Vice Chancellor, Stuart McCutchen hasn’t grasped yet. Students, staff and those outside the university have come together. Already there has been a large rally that saw around a thousand students and staff march to the Clock tower to present a consultation document. There has been a speak-in and conversations at some of the libraries with representatives from institutions such as the New Zealand Institute of Architects affirming the importance of these specialist collections not just to students but entire professions in New Zealand. These proposed closures therefore have a relevance beyond the boundaries of the university campus and the academic study of today’s students.

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Health workers make their voices heard



Wellington rally. Photo credit: Rachel Bellam

Thousands rallied across the country last weekend to show their support for health workers in their campaign for better pay and conditions. There were gatherings of several hundred in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and rallies in cities all across the country. From Greymouth to Gisborne people came out to stand in solidarity with nurses and other health workers.



The determination, focus and strength of the rallies was an inspiration. Health workers have been facing in their daily working life the effects of years of underfunding in the system, and it is taking a toll on their physical and mental health. Just this week RNZ’s Checkpoint reported that nurses in Christchurch are assaulted at least twice a week. Reports this year of the rot and potentially dangerous mould in Middlemore Hospital are a symbol for the decay and neglect nurses are fighting against. They have huge public support.

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The rise of the Red Fed

MW cartoonBy Martin Gregory


The defeat of the 1890 Maritime Strike, a general strike of transport-related unions, smashed up the first wave of union militancy in these islands. Union membership was knocked back from 63 000 to just 8 000, and the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894 was passed.


The arbitration system ended strikes completely. It applied to unions that registered under the Act, and most did, despite the loss of independence to be able to take legal industrial action or even determine their own rules. The unions, which were mostly local craft unions, accepted, even welcomed, the Arbitration Court handing down awards because they were too weak to take the employers on.

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Health workers need more: ‘independent’ panel no way forward

Health Workers

NZNO members protest in Wellington. Image credit: Unions Wellington

During last year’s election campaign Labour seemed to be the party that offered pay equity and a boost to health spending. Nurses, health care assistants and midwives, working in unbearable conditions under National’s cutbacks, took Labour at its word. In November the ordinary member of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation voted down a collective agreement, recommended to them by their negotiating team, which gave just 2 percent pay rises. In March the membership voted down another deal that gave 2 percent increases. Then in early April health workers showed an unmistakable spirit to fight for the radical uplift to public health services that they and the public need. As health workers rallied outside hospitals the general public enthusiastically tooted its support for the cause.

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