As hinted at in my last post in the series, the Socialist Unity Party regarded the FOL’s “Maori and Pacific Islands Advisory Committee.” (MPIAC) as an avenue for influencing the “Maori Community“
Formed in 1981, under the leadership of Jackson Smith, MPIAC (now the CTU’s Te Runanga O Kamahi Maori O Aoteoroa) served as a meeting place and coordinating body for some of the countries most well known Maori activists. Several SUP members served on the committee, as did Syd Jackson, his second wife Deidre Nehua, Atareta Poananga, Bill Hamilton (later a leader of Mana Motuhake and the Alliance Party) and Niko Tangaroa, later a leader of the 1995 Moutua Gardens occupation.
Often working with MPIAC, SUP members and supporters worked to influence the Maori community towards “progressive” action at every opportunity. Some examples include;
Henry Te Karu Originally with the Wairarapa Meatworkers Union, Te Karu visited the Soviet Union in 1981. Te Karu told the SUP’s Tribune of the 2nd of October 1989 that he was organising a new venture to open up channels between the Wairarapa CTU Runanga and the Marae committees of the area, adding “I think we’ll see the similarity of trade union and Maori struggles.”
In 1990 he was working working from the Masterton office of the Iwi Transition Agency for Ngati Kahungunu (New Zealand’s third largest Maori tribe).
Pat Shepherd From the SUP controlled Auckland Unemployed Workers Union, Shepherd worked with Auckland Maori on anti pollution campaigns in the Manakau Harbour. In 1986 he joined several Maori comrades on a trip to the Soviet Union to “witness the Leninist nationalities policy in practice“
Of Maori/Irish descent, Meihana had been jailed by the British in Northern Ireland in 1978 for taking photos of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Back in New Zealand, before joining the SUP, she was involved in the Waitangi Action Committee and in 1982 was arrested at Bastion Point.
In the mid ’80s she worked on Maori self-determination issues with Unemployed workers organisation, Te Roopu Rawakore.
Involved in the pro Irish Republican group, Information on Ireland, Meihana told the Dominion Sunday Times of 11th of February 1988, “The Irish cause is the Maori cause. The Maori fight in New Zealand is basically the same, only it is yet to reach a military stage like Ireland.”
John Price A European (married to a Maori) PSA official and SUP supporter in Rotorua, Price was involved in a dispute at the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Whakarewarewa in 1988.
In the same year he wrote in the SUP’s theoretical journal, “Socialist Politics” “In my extensive activities on Rotorua Marae, I never stop being a Trade Unionist. On the Marae I discuss working class issues and discuss them in their class context.”
Price worked closely with Mana Motuhake activists, the Iwi Transition Agency and the local Polytech, promoting Maori “Business Studies“.