My second Socialist Academic Profile is of David Small, a senior lecturer in Education at Canterbury University. Small is Chair, both of the Board of Studies for Interdisciplinary Programmes and Courses and the Board of Studies in Education. He is also co-president of the Canterbury Branch of the Association of University Staff. Small holds degrees in Education and Political Science.
In 1979, while a student, David Small helped found the Canterbury University Progressives Club, with Political Science lecturer, the late Rob Steven. A former South African Rhodes Scholar, Steven was an advocate of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. The “Progressives” consequently had a Maoist outlook.
During the 1981 Springbok Tour, Small was very active. He was an organiser for HART and acted as a protest co-ordinator outside the Springbok/All Blacks game at Lancaster Park. He also protested at Hamilton.
During the 1980’s Small was an education officer for “aid” organisation, CORSO. This was the peak of the Maoist/Workers Communist League influence in CORSO, that had begun in the early ’70s. In June 1985, Small wrote an article in Peacelink on the change in CORSO’s policy since 1972. “CORSO launched an education programme aimed at challenging myths about world poverty and became involved in political campaigns in New Zealand to parallel its overseas funding.” This change resulted in Prime Minister Muldoon cutting all state funding to CORSO.
In the mid ’80s Small met Susanna Ounei, a New Caledonian Kanak activist. Ounei supported the Kanak revolutionary movement. “My dreams became a reality in September 1969, when Nidoish Naissoline, high chief of Mare, returned from France and established a political group called the Red Scarves”. Ounei joined the Red Scarves and became involved in militant political activities.
In 1975 Ounei’s flat served as the base for PALIKA, the Kanak Liberation Party. In 1979, she broke away from PALIKA to form the Kanak Socialist Liberation Party.
In 1984 Ounei was asked by Kanak activists to travel to NZ. In November 1984, she spoke at an Auckland University meeting, to gain support for the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front. According to the Socialist Unity Party’s “Tribune” of November 26th “She is in NZ studying English and gaining support for her people’s struggle against the French colonial administration. . . Susanna works for the rights of women, and for those of the Kanak people to land, independence and socialism.”
CORSO sponsored Ounei’s English studies. In May 1986 Ounei told CORSO’s “Overview” “The right wing knows about the support CORSO gives to the Kanak people and they often criticise CORSO in their newspaper…But is important for us that CORSO, the NZ government and the NZ people continue to support us”
David Small and Susanna Ounei were married in Christchurch in November 1986. In January 1987 the couple traveled to New Caledonia, but Small was refused a visa to enter. Subsequently they returned to NZ and lived in Wellington and then Christchurch.
Ounei particularly, kept active on the international front. In the late’80s she was part of a Kanak delegation which met Nicaraguan “Sandinista” diplomat, Alberto Gallegos.
In 1988 senior Communist Party of the Philippines member, Joy Balazo visited NZ. I quote part of a report she wrote for the Party. I believe the S.O. referred to is Ounei.
“3. PALIKA (member of FLNKS)
a. Meeting with S.O.
b. Involved with popular Kanak schools
c. Trained young activists
d. Criticisms against UC sellout (Accord) to the French in exchange of monetarial considerations.
e. Has visited the Phils already (during the killing of Alex Orculla). Very much inspired with her Phil visit.
f. Agreements: – Exchange of publications/addresses – Invited her to attend Washer.”
Small became one on NZ’s greatest supporters of the militant Kanak cause. In March 1986 he spoke at a Kanak Solidarity meeting on “The State of the Independence Struggle in Kanaky” at the CORSO office in Pitt street, Auckland. Small became a leading member of the Kanak Solidarity Group and at one point staged a hunger strike outside the French Embassy in Wellington over being refused a visa to visit New Caledonia.
In December 1987 Small successfully appealed against police opposition to his application for a firearms licence. Police Criminal Intelligence Section viewed the application with some apprehension because of Small’s involvement with the Kanak Liberation movement and Ounei.
David Small eventually split from Ounei and his activism turned away from the dying Kanak “liberation” cause onto issues of trade and “social justice”. In November 1991 Small spoke at a Christchurch meeting with his old comrade Rob Steven, Maori activist Syd Jackson and academic Jane Kelsey on the horrors of the GATT and Free Trade.
In the mid ’90s Small was active in the GATT Watchdog Group. He was also a contributor to “Common Ground”, the publication of the Peoples Network, an organisation led by several former members of the Workers Communist League.
In 1996, Small made national headlines when he surprised two Security Intelligence Service officers, attempting to break in to the home of his friend Aziz Choudry. After a long legal battle, Choudry gained a confidential settlement an an apology for the incident. For more on Choudry, see my earlier post, “NZers Involved in International Maoist Organisation”.
By 2001, Small was on the advisory board of ARENA, a Christcurch based “social justice” and anti free trade organisation. Others on the board included Aziz Choudry, three former members of the neo-Maoist, Radical Society, Luke Coxon, Helen Te Hira and Desigin Thulkanham, Indian Marxist academic, Radha DÂSouza, Cybele Locke (formerly with the Maoist influenced, Aotearoa Youth Network) and Bill Rosenberg, a longtime socialist and son of NZ/North Korea Society leader, Wolfgang Rosenberg.
Small also became interested in Middle Eastern issues. In October 2002 he spoke to a Canterbury University meeting opposing the looming war in Iraq. The meeting was sponsored by the Young Socialists (affiliated to the Communist League), Revolution, (affiliated to the Revolutionary Workers League) and two Arab activists, Ghazala Anwar and Mohummed Musa.
This interest has extended to the Ahmed Zaoui case. Small spoke to the Canterbury Council for Civil Liberties in November 2003. He dealt with the case of Ahmed Zaoui in the context of the development of NZ’s anti-terrorist legislation and argued that the case was a perfect illustration of some of the worst features of the new laws.
According to a recent ARENA leaflet, “ARENA Advisory Board members, David Small,Helen Te Hira and Luke Coxon have all been involved in the campaign to have Ahmed Zaoui released from prison, cleared of being a security risk and granted refuge in NZ”
Does Small use his university position to attempt to influence students? I quote from his website;
“I am exploring the extent to which it is possible to engage people in the transformative process of praxis in the context of courses that lead to an academic qualification.”
Marx defined “praxis” as “revolutionary, critical-practical activity.”