The Maoists of the Workers Communist League channeled their racial activism through organisations like Project Waitangi and CORSO.
The far more powerful, pro-Soviet Socialist Unity Party tended to work through the unions, guided by key behind-the-scenes party members.
By the beginning of the 1980s, the pro-Soviet SUP was the undisputed leader of New Zealand Marxism-Leninism. Under Ken Douglas’ astute leadership the party came to completely dominate the Federation of Labour, giving the SUP both substantial influence and a source of finance on top of their regular Soviet subsidies.
The SUP placed heavy emphasis on “National Question” activity. They were involved in Bastion Point and other issues of the day, but tended to play a discrete background role.
One of those key members was a non-Maori, Central Committee member (and partner of SUP leader Ken Douglas), Marilyn Tucker.
Tucker (then named Spargo) led the NZ delegation (which included Polynesian Panther Norman Tuiasau)to the 1973 10th World Festival of Youth and Students in East Berlin.
In August 1980, Tucker and Maori activist Ripeka Evans were part of a delegation of six, representing various Maori organisations to Vanuatu’s Independence celebrations.
Tucker was a high flier in the SUP and was well regarded by the Soviets. She underwent training at Lenin’s institute for Higher Learning in Moscow and is alleged to have studied “National Question” politics there.
The SUP had few trusted Maori members in the late ’70s/early’80s, so as a senior comrade, Tucker was assigned to develop the SUP’s Maori policy.
It is believed she served on the SUP’s early “Commission on the National Question“.
In an article in the SUP’s theoretical journal “Socialist Politics” in 1983 entitled
“The National Question: The Soviet Experience and its Lessons for New Zealand” Tucker wrote
“The struggles for full National Rights of the Maori people and against racism.. are an essential ingredient in the general struggle against state monopoly alliance… and in the longer term struggle for socialism…”.
Tucker laid the groundwork for later SUP “National Question” activists to follow.
She later went on to become General Secretary of the party.