If you knew Simon Wilson 25 years ago, you wouldn’t pick him as the future editor of NZ’s leading culinary magazine “Cuisine”. Mind you, before Cuisine he did 12 years editing “Consumer” magazine and a long stint sub-editing the “Listener”, both of which gave him at least some scope to attack capitalism.
Back in the late ’70s/early ’80s, Simon Wilson was in the thick of Maoist student politics, both at Victoria University and nationally.
In 1978, Wilson edited the Vic student magazine, Salient and in 1980 he served as president of the NZ University Students Association. He resigned early from NZUSA however after being arrested for spraying anti-nuke slogans, during the visit to Wellington of the American warship, USS Truxtun.
In 1981, Wilson as a leader of the Third World Solidarity Committee, also protested the Wellington visit of US Secretary of State, Al Haig.
Around this time, Wilson was named by both Minister of Education, Merv Wellington, PM Muldoon and the Security Intelligence Service as a member of the Workers Communist League or its predecessor, the Wellington Marxist-Leninist Organisation.
Wilson’s real moment of glory came in 1981, when he and Dave MacPherson were elected to the Marshall’s Committee of Wellington’s leading anti Tour organisation, Citizen’s Opposed to the Sprinbok Tour.
Wilson was in charge of COST’s Yellow Section which was assigned to mass outside the Shaw Saville Lodge, where the All Blacks stayed before the second test. Later that day Wilson led his troops into action in Riddiford Street, to support an embattled Green Section led by Roger Tobin.
Later Wilson also commanded a segment of Orange section after the arrest of Dave MacPherson. Wilson was in the thick of the action right through the tour and after the action, used his writing skills as part of the COST writing group.
He helped write the official COST history “56 Days”.
From Mao to Merlot, from revolution to Ravioli. Just proves that anyone can change.