Anybody who attended Waikato Uni in the’90s would probably remember the subject of my third “Where Are You Now, Campus Radical?”, profile, Dale Frew.
Frew was a “mature” student. He came to Waikato in ’92 after 10 years as a union official, first with the Butchers and grocers Union and then as Waikato Secretary of the Timberworkers Union. Unsurprisingly, Frew did courses in “Labour Studies” under Mike Law, Paul Harris and David Neilson.
By ’93 Frew was a leading member of the main campus Marxist group, the Waikato University Progressives Club. The same year he was the Hamilton “core group” member for the People’s Assembly movement, a Maoist leaning organisation, led by ex Workers Communist League members like Sue Bradford, Robert Reid and Leonie Morris.
Affiliated to the People’s Assembly was the Aotearoa Youth Network. Frew was Hamilton contact for this network of Maoists and anarchists, though he was well into his thirties at the time.
In ’94, Frew was a leading member of the Students of Waikato Education Team. He helped organise a SWET hosted gathering at Waikato for education activists from campuses all over NZ.
In ’95, Frew was active in the Waikato Environment Bunch. Linked to the Aotearoa Youth Network, WEB was part of the Students Environmental Action Network, which linked socialist and Green students nationwide.
The same year, Frew was Hamilton contact for the Next Step Democracy Movement, which was also linked to ex Workers Communist League members. NSDM tried to gain sufficient signatures to force referenda on a socialist wish list they dreamed up. They failed to gain the signatures and the movement faded away.
In ’95 Frew was also the Waikato University campaigns co-ordinator, charged with organising protests and demos. He also made an unsuccessful bid for the Waikato Students Union 1996 vice-presidency, on a ticket with Trevor Leybourne and Margaret Dobson.
In the mid to late ’90s, a group of activists around Rick Marshall and Ben King, turned Waikato Students Union inrto a voluntary organisation. Frew was a leader of the compulsory unionism forces, which after several years were successful.
During this period, Frew was the partner of the University’s mediation officer, Bethea Weir, a former president of the WSU, with a fondness for Lenin badges.
Frew hung around Waikato Uni till 2001, before working for a while in Hamilton, then moving to Christchurch.
In November, 2005, Dale Frew turned up at the 10th Congress of the Communist Party of Australia. He was a delegate from the Socialist Party of Aotearoa, NZ’s leading, traditional communist party. He warned the Aussie socialists to resist John Howard’s new labour legislation, lest Australia go down the Employment Contracts Act road. Among friends, he was well received