The Communist Party
Formed in 1921, the New Zealand Communist Party was formally affiliated to the Labour Party until its members were expelled in 1925.
The Communists then set about infiltrating Labour for the next 30 years. During the ’30s,’40s and early ’50s, it was a matter of course for rural Communist Party members to join the local Labour branch. During WW2, the Party infiltrated several key Labour branches in the main centres, sometimes even holding a majority on the committee.
Many Labour members were also active in Communist Party fronts, such as the Friends of the Soviet Union, until Labour finally banned the practice during the Cold War.
Several senior Labour Party figures began their careers in the Communist Party orbit.
Some of the better known include Onehunga MP Frank Rogers, Minister outside of Cabinet Eddie Isbey, Cabinet Minister Warren Freer, Attorney General Martyn Finlay, Minister of Maori Affairs Matt Rata and Ministers of Defence Frank O’Flynn and Bob Tizard.
To be fair though, National’s Minister of Labour in the ’60s, Tom Shand, was also allegedly a communist in his youth.
In the early ’60s the Communist Party split into Soviet and Chinese factions.
The pro Soviet faction formed the Socialist Unity Party and concentrated it’s strength in the trade union movement.
A much weakened but more fanatical Communist Party of New Zealand followed the Chinese line and gained strength in the student movement and the more violent factions of the anti Vietnam war campaign. The Communist Party of New Zealand also dominated in it’s early stages the Progressive Youth Movement which actively recruited in the universities and was very visible in the Anti War and Anti-Apartheid movements.
In the early ’70s the Communist Party of New Zealand lost some of it’s senior cadres in Wellington and Auckland to a series of Maoist factions, one of which was led by Rona Bailey. The Communist Party of New Zealand virtually disintegrated after this and by 1980 had aligned with Stalinist Albania.
In 1994/5 the remnants of the Communist Party adopted Trotskyism and morhed into the organisation now known as .
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