New Zealand History from Below: Lessons for Today*s Activists

Ryan Bodman
Case Study:
The Passive Resisters’ Union
Lesson: Establish leverage over
your opponent
‘We … recognise that all wars are a
ruse of the capitalist class to set the
workers of this country and the
workers of other countries at each
other’s throats. We recognise no
enemy than the hereditary enemy of
our class, the employers of labour in
this and other countries.’
‘to resist coercion, conscription and
compulsory military training under all
circumstances and in defiance of all pains
and penalties which may be imposed’.
‘… the situation at Ripa Island is simply defeating
the ends of the Defence Department. The
authorities have collected there a group of the
most prominent resisters, and the lads have
successfully defied authority.... Ripa Island, in fact,
is in danger of becoming simply a centre of antimilitarist propaganda, where young men are taught
that they can defy the law. People who have
supported the Defence Act all along are saying
that it would be better to let these youth go than to
have them posing as martyrs and proving the
inability of the Defence Department to apply real
NZ Tourist Dept.
Government Sanatorium
Ripa Island.
Situated across the water from
Lyttleton. … Windows frosted
to secure privacy and
seclusion. Darkrooms for
To ensure good fishing, no
outside boat allowed with 200
Burglar proof fences.
ADMISSION by invitation
Case Study: The Occupation of
Takaparawha/Bastion Point
Lesson: Consider public
opinion when seeking to
harness the power of the
‘During the Bastion Point occupation, just saying Kia
ora … they’d look at you in a funny way, and Maori
tikanaga … was just mumbo jumbo stuff…. Bill
[Anderson] … made … a point that [the Auckland
Trades Council] had to support the occupation of
Bastion Point…. [Robert] Muldoon wanted to develop
the whole place into luxury housing for his rich mates.
So Bill was the secretary of the Northern Drivers’ Union
and he went around selling the idea of a green ban, not
because it’s Maori land, because unionists in those
days were just as racist as some bloody tories. It was
the fact that this is going to be for rich people and it’s
not going to be for poor working people so that’s how
he sold the green ban to his members.’
Case Study: The Save
Manapouri Campaign
1960s - 1972
Lesson: Use your energy
Social Movement Theory :
Daniel Hunter, Strategy and Soul: A Campaigner’s Tale of Fighting Billionaires, Corrupt
Officials, and Philadelphia Casinos, Philadelphia, 2013.
Hillary Moore and Joshua Kahn Russell, Organising Cools the Planet: Tools and
Reflections to Navigate the Climate Crisis, Oakland, 2011.
Bill Moyer, Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements,
Nanaimo, 2010.
New Zealand History :
Ryan Bodman, ‘“Don’t be a conscript, be a man”: A History of the Passive Resisters
Union, 1912-1914”, Honours Dissertation, University of Auckland, 2010.
Aroha Harris, Hikoi: Forty Years of Māori Protest, Auckland, 2004.
Roger Wilson, From Manapouri to Aramoana:
Environment, Auckland, 1982.
The Battle for New Zealand’s
David Young, Our Islands, Our Selves: A History of Conservation in New Zealand,
Dunedin, 2004.

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