After splitting with the Communist Party of New Zealand, Rona Bailey’s Maoist faction prospered and began recruiting young radicals at Wellington’s Victoria University. This group had supporters on most campuses and dominated student politics at local and New Zealand University Student’s Association level until the mid ’80s.
This “Marxist-Leninist” group controlled the Anti-Apartheid group Halt All Racist Tours (HART), had considerable influence in the Committee on Vietnam and was very active in the Maori Land Rights, Women’s and International Solidarity campaigns.
Strong links with China were forged, through the NZ/China Friendship Society, regular visits of student activists to China and participation in the Asian Student’s Association.
In 1976 Bailey’s group formalised itself as the Wellington Marxist-Leninist Organisation and in 1980 joined the Auckland/Hamilton based Northern Communist Organisation and several university based groups to form the Worker’s Communist League. The name probably came from the Canadian Worker’s Communist Party with which the Workers Communist League maintained links and acknowledged inspiration.
The Workers Communist League also maintained links with the USA’s League for Revolutionary Struggle, the late Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement of Azania, several Pacific “progressive” movements and communist parties in Norway, Peru and the Philippines.
The Workers Communist League hit a peak in 1981 when it played a leading role in some of the most violent protest activity ever seen in New Zealand, the opposition to the Springbok Tour. The Workers Communist League had considerable influence in HART and anti Tour coalitions nationwide, particularly in Wellington, where Citizens Opposed to the Springbok Tour was under total Workers Communist League control.
Later the Workers Communist League turned to solidarity with Nicaragua and from the mid ’80s became increasingly supportive of the Philippines Communist Party and New People’s Army. Much assistance was channelled to both causes through the aid agency CORSO which the Workers Communist League dominated. Considerable amounts of this was taxpayer’s money given to CORSO subsidised projects by the Ministry of External Relations and Trade.
In the mid ’80s the Workers Communist League abandoned the Maoist line for a more Third World Liberationist orientation. Senior Workers Communist League cadres visited China after the “split” however and a few maintained activity in the NZ/China Society.
In 1990 the Workers Communist League dissolved and re-formed as Left Currents, which soon folded.
Part 3 Part 5