1972 sitting in assembly in the school hall
I was 15
my new school – Onslow College.
the 7th formers mostly radical students
(the counter culture had arrived in New Zealand)
requested boys be able to have their hair whatever length they liked.
‘no ‘said the principal
‘will we accept no ? ‘ a lad asks.
‘no ‘ we all chanted.
we will stay here until our demands are met
and so we did.
it grew warmer -the hall got sticky – boredom set off missiles and
whispers became shouts .
the goodie goodies had left and were attending classes with a serious lack of students.
one revolution of the wheel.
a victory – boys no longer had to have the regulation buzz cut.
a feeling of empowered euphoria swept thru us and we felt invincible
we felt like we could change the world.
we decided we no longer wished to wear school uniforms
so we became the only coed high school in the greater Wellington region to wear whatever we liked.
that next year all matter of hippie kids turned up allowed to leave their Saint this and that – their single sex with gloves schools
children of parents with left liberal sympathies.
a tide was turning and we were part of the vanguard.
this was the time of the Vietnam war and
nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean by the French.
our other pet hate and call for protest was
playing rugby with South Africa who discriminated on the grounds of race in choosing their team.
apartheid was abhorrent to a country struggling to deal with colonial racism
a country that was learning to come together.
there is a march in Wellington today to protest against …..
‘you may not go’ said the principal.
we went anyway – taking over the city – stopping traffic – waving banners.
I was home in time for dinner.
what is it all about ? asks Mum.
fish in the ocean radioactivity islanders getting sick
earthquakes our backyard ocean.
‘always been too arrogant those frogs ‘says Dad.
‘tut tut’ says Mum ‘they shouldn’t carry on like that.
and what has sport got to do with politics?’
racism inequality Mum.
‘well we have to get rid of communism’ says Dad
why ( argument follows) sigh ‘it is not our fight Dad.’
where will it all end?’ asks Mum.
still no answer on that one .
in 1972 Norman Kirk from a working class background and then leader of the labour party became our prime minister.
in a government characterised by action on behalf of the ordinary people he withdrew the remaining troops out of Vietnam.
he abolished compulsory military training and in a speech to the UN was highly critical of the US and their involvement with the coup d’etat in Chile.
A milestone had been reached in the coming of age as an independent country.
it seemed for a brief period of time that there was a mesh between the people and our government to stand up.
although Norm Kirk had said in the election campaign that he wouldn’t interfere in the proposed tour by the Springboks he cancelled the tour.
the passionate and vocal protest- the potential for violence changed his mind.
After taking France to the International Court of Justice did not stop them – Norm sent two navy frigates to Mururoa Atoll in protest.
A member of parliament was on board his name picked out of a hat.
there was a sense in the air of revolution – a turning back of the darkness of dispelling injustice.
1974 Norman Kirk died in office and the country mourned
he was a big man with a way of looking into something so inteligently and so deeply that much became possible and then he acted .
today marks the 6th year of the passing of my mother.
She never voted labour in her life but she did possess common sense and so did Norm.