In 1963 the NZ Communist Party allied with China, while in 1966 a group of pro-Soviet communists, set up the rival Socialist Unity Party. Rona Bailey stuck with the pro-Chinese faction, but did take out a subscription to the SUP’s “Tribune” newspaper in 1966.
Bailey hosted Chinese propagandist and paedophile, Rewi Alley in her Wellington home during visits in 1960 and 1963. In 1966 she was one of several Communist Party members who were listed as contributing 5 Pounds towards the 2000 needed for Committee On Vietnam leaflets. This literature “exposed” US atrocities in Vietnam, and was timed for release just before the 1966 general election. At the time, Rona Bailey was an official NZ representative of the China News Agency.
In 1970, almost the entire Wellington branch of the Communist Party was expelled by the Auckland based leadership. Rona Bailey subsequently played a leading role in building a new Marxist-Leninist organisation in Wellington.
“On October 21st 1970, the Peoples Voice published a CP decision to expel six leading Wellington members. . . Jack Manson, Rona Bailey, Pat Kelly, George Goddard, Ken Stanton and Ronald J Smith. . . Under the influence of this group a big proportion of the members in the Wellington district were split off from the CP and were formed into what then amounted to a separate party, with its own programme and organisation, hostile to those of the CP. They proceeded to organise the production of a newspaper ‘The Paper’. . . [Letter written by CP to Ostler, Manson and Gough of the Preparatory Committee for the Formation of a Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist
On July 20th 1971, the “Truth” newspaper photographed Rona Bailey going into the Blind Social Club in Willis Street, Wellington, for a secret meeting with ex CP members Alex Ostler, Pat Kelly, Jack Manson and John Grant-Mackie (an Auckland University geography lecturer). It was a very clandestine time.
In February 1975 Russell Johnson wrote an article for the Socialist Action League’s paper, “Socialist Action” entitled “Maoists discuss dumping’The Paper’“. He said ‘The Paper’ was founded 18 months ago by “Wgtn adherents of Stalin and Mao“. Johnson named Trevor Richards (HART) and Joris de Bres (Citizens Association for Racial Equality) as ‘The Paper’ supporters.
Keith Locke wrote in Socialist Action (13th July 1973) that “the people involved are a group of expelled members of the CP around Rona Bailey and some younger and more recent Maoist converts“.
The 1970s were extremely busy with anti Vietnam war and anti Apartheid work. The key anti Vietnam war organisation in NZ at the time was the Committee on Vietnam. It was led mainly by Maoists, but also included some SUP people and even later on, the odd Trotskyite. Rona Bailey served as Wellington COV treasurer from 1966 to at least 1973 and was secretary of the organisation in ’74/75..
Besides the COV, Bailey was active in the “Mobe” committee, co-ordinating anti war demos all over NZ.
In April 1972, Rona attended the National Anti War Conference. She moved a resolution section “That this conference would welcome a call for an Australasian conference of Trade Unions against the war in Indochina, such a conference to be held in NZ in 1972, and that the Trade Unions of both countries finance this conference.” It was carried.
In 1972 she became founding treasuer of a new, Maoist run group, the “National Anti Apartheid Committee”. She was a guiding influence in the new group. According to John Minto “I first met Rona in 1976 at a meeting of the National Anti-Apartheid Committee in Wellington. I was a rep from Napier and new to the movement. Rona was a ‘legend’ already. She was a veteran in all senses of the word compared to most of us. She was much older and had been involved for a long time previously.”
In a 1977 letter to NZ Monthly Review Bailey announced a conference timed for November in Wellington “Why a National Anti-Apartheid Conference?”… The need to intensify the struggle against apartheid has been recognised by the UN which held a World Anti-Apartheid Conference in Lagos, Nigeria, in August. . . Trevor Richards (HART), David Williams (CARE) and Dave Stott (NAAC) attended . . . 1978 has been designated by the UN as International Anti-Apartheid Year. . . The November conference will review current events and developments in Southern Africa. . . What are our priorities of work? How and by whom is this work best undertaken? How can we in NZ best assist the struggle for liberation in Southern Africa?”
Stott, incidentally, was also a Maoist.
In 1976, Rona Bailey, a handful of old communists and a good number of university based Maoists, formally established a new group, the “Wellington Marxist-Leninist Organisation”. It was affectionaly known by its members as MILO, after the chocolate drink.
In 1979/80, Bailey and company linked up with ex communists from South Auckland and some Hamilton and Auckland based Maoist activists, to form a new Maoist group the “Workers Communist League”. It was unaffectionately known by its many detractors as the “Weasels”, for its dirty and underhand tactics.