As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Springbok Tour, there are a lot of self righteous cretins popping up to tell us about their exploits.
These are the people who cared so much about the rights of black South Africans that they threw broken glass on rugby fields, assaulted policemen, blocked streets, sabotaged TV transmitters, vandalised property, threatened opponents and endangered innocent lives.
One of the most irresponsible of these idiots was Eden Park flour bomber, Marx Jones.
A Herald on Sunday reporter took Marx Jones back to Eden Park on Friday to relive his former “glory”.
“Some days people feel it’s necessary to get a light aircraft off the ground to change the world.
Then there was Aucklander Marx Jones, the man who flew the plane that flour-bombed Eden Park during the third and final test match of the 1981 Springbok rugby tour.
But 25 years on from that powdery yet indelible protest against South Africa’s racist political policies, Jones plays down his part in history. “It’s still taken way out of context because there were thousands of people protesting and doing all sorts of things.”
Jones, 32 at the time, says he took the little Cessna lower than the top of the goalposts during some fly-overs, but usually was just above them. His “bombadier” Grant Cole was dropping one-pound paper flour bombs. “We used paper instead of plastic because we wanted them to burst on impact so no one would get hurt,” says Jones.
Some people were hurt but none seriously. Flour bombs hit at least eight people in the crowd before the bombers got their eye in and the pitch was peppered. Famously, All Black prop Gary Knight was felled by a direct hit to the head.
Today, Jones is a builder and his latest project, renovating two cottages surrounded by high-rise buildings in Auckland’s CBD, looks like an act of staunch resistance. He just hopes they’ll give him some money to retire on. He’s a diminutive man, who’s ready to laugh and is one tooth short of a beaming smile.
He has a colourful family. His cousin is broadcaster Lindsay Perigo and his uncle is renowned art forger Karl “Goldie” Sim.
With a name like Marx, it seems Jones was born to protest. His grandfather was a founding member of the New Zealand Communist Party and flew to Moscow for the funeral of a great Russian general in the 1950s.
“My parents never forced it upon me but they were in the Communist Party. I didn’t get into any of that until I was 25. When I was young I was racing motorcars and flying, driving petrol tankers. I got involved in the union movement and it went from there. I was just as active in the anti-nuclear thing.”
Jones was named after German socialist and philosopher Karl Marx, the father of communism. And, as it happens, Jones is a Marxist who believes in breaking down class barriers and giving workers more power.
His first anti-apartheid protest flight was in 1978 when he painted “RACIST” under the wings of a hired plane and flew over a softball game between South Africa and New Zealand in Papakura.
New Zeal On the day of the Eden Park test…
They hired a plane from Dairy Flat, boarded with a suitcase full of flour bombs and reached Eden Park just before the 2.30pm kick-off. As they flew over the harbour bridge, Jones got on the airwaves.
“I said: ‘This is Radio Anti-Apartheid, you’ve got to stop the game’. There was this long silence and this guy comes back and says: ‘Or what?’.
“First we went round Eden Park three or four times and dropped our leaflets. We tried the soft approach first. Then we had half a dozen parachute flares but I think only two or three landed on the pitch. It’s quite difficult getting your speed and your trajectory sorted out. I went quite low and diagonally so I wouldn’t tangle with the goalposts.”
Jones was 99.9 per cent confident they wouldn’t kill anyone that day. They knew they’d hit someone on the field but didn’t know it was Knight and they were probably lucky the victim was the burly Manawatu prop and former wrestler.
He simulated a forced landing, coming in steep and levelling out. While he says he was never going to land on the field, he admits it’s possible.
“A good pilot could do it. You couldn’t guarantee you wouldn’t have hit someone. You probably would have killed a couple of rugby players. That wouldn’t have mattered,” he laughs.
Jones spent six months in jail for his protest and while he said the experience was thoroughly unpleasant, including a run-in with a racist guard, at each of his three prisons he got “five-star treatment” from the inmates.
The Herald on Sunday took Jones back to Eden Park on Friday with a bag of flour. It was his first time on the pitch since he and other protesters tried to topple the goalposts in 1985 to protest the Cavaliers tour to South Africa.
Their attempt was thwarted when a priest in the protest party started hammering crosses into the turf and the noise alerted security guards.
He maintains that the Springboks weren’t simply innocent rugby players.
“Half those guys were Broderbund [a party likened to the Ku Klux Klan]. Even then the national sport was to go home and shoot a few darkies. Their policy was white supremacism. They could come out here and be nice guys but back home they were right prats.”
Marx Jones is the son of Margaret Jones, a long time Communist Party member. His grandfather was Leo Sim, the Manawatu based General Secretary of the Communist Party during the ’30s. Leo Sim was jailed during WW2 for possessing stolen Army rifles.
Sim was expelled from the Communist Party for his policy of encouraging communists into the army, so they could turn their weapons on their officers in the first stage of “the revolution“. Leo Sim went on to form that legendary revolutionary organisation, the Foxton Bolsheviks.
Marx Jones was pretty close to the Communist Party in the ’70s and “80s. This was a time when the CPNZ was reduced to a tiny sect aligned to Albania. Stalin and Enver Hoxha were the CPNZ’s idols at the time.
The CPNZ was lways scrapping with the much larger, Soviet aligned Socialist Unity Party. This may be why Marx Jones challenged SUP leader Bill Andersen for the presidency of the Northern Drivers Union in 1976.
In 1978, Marx Jones was one of several CPNZ aligned individuals involved in the Maori occupation of Bastion Point, near Auckland.
In 1982, Marx Jones manned the CPNZ stand at the Sweetwaters Festival.
During the ’80s, Jones was heavily involved with so called “aid agency” CORSO.
Why does risking the lives of hundreds of rugby fans make this unreformed Marxist a hero? The Herald on Sunday should be ashamed of glorifying this fool.