Labour History Project: Biennial Rona Bailey Lecture.

You are invited to the Labour History Project Biennial Rona Bailey Lecture:

Rona Bailey has been described as ‘one of the most important figures on the radical left in twentieth-century New Zealand.’ In this talk, Dr Cybèle Locke will tell stories about Rona’s lifelong grassroots activism: why she became a communist trade unionist and cultural worker in 1940s Wellington and learned to campaign from where people are at; how her commitment to working cooperatively with others of different political persuasions in anti-war and anti-apartheid protest movements got her expelled from the Communist Party and led her into the Workers’ Communist League.

After the 1981 Springbok tour, Māori activists challenged the anti-apartheid movement to turn its attention to racism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Rona began to read Aotearoa New Zealand history: “I felt ‘appalled, amazed, angry’ that I’d never learned what happened to Māori people in this country,” she reflected. Bailey embarked on a process that led her to leave the Workers’ Communist League, embrace her Pākehā identity and tangata Tiriti responsibilities and help forge, in 1985, an organisation called Project Waitangi—Pākehā Debate the Treaty.

About the speaker:

Cybèle Locke is a Pākehā historian who foregrounds working-class narratives in her work. She is a senior lecturer at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington and author of Workers in the Margins: Union Radicals in Post-War New Zealand and Comrade – Bill Andersen: A Communist, Working-Class Life. She will speak to her most recent publication, Chapter 21 ‘Dancing for the Revolution: Rona Bailey, New Zealand Artist Activist (1914–2005)’ in F. de Haan (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Communist Women Activists Around the World.

‘Rona Bailey: Communist, Pākehā, artist activist, 1914-2005’
Monday 19 February 2024, lecture begins at 6pm with refreshments to follow.
Taiwhanga Kauhau Auditorium, (lower ground) National Library Wellington.
Donations gratefully accepted.

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