Wallace was a gangster who made a fifteen year tour of New Zealand's prison system before he found a job with the carpentry crew on the Mangere bridge. When he and his militant co-workers were locked out by their employers, with the connivance of the Muldoon government, Wallace flourished as a picket line orator. Shortly after starring in Mita's film, he would play opposite Bruno Lawrence in Geoff Murphy's Utu, a revered depiction of racial feuding in nineteenth century New Zealand that might also be a parable for industrial relations in the turbulent first years of the 1980s.
invoked by right-wing politicians who like to scare their audiences with horror stories about hubristic trade unions.
This weekend Paul Janman and I and other members of the Committee for the Reconstruction of Space and Time on Pig Island will be giving two guided tours of the pedestrian underpass of the Mangere bridge, as part of our contribution to the Other Waters festival, which is designed to celebrate the history and aesthetics of Onehunga, Mangere, and the harbour that both links and separates them.
You can join us at two o'clock tomorrow afternoon, and at ten o'clock on Sunday morning, as we follow the underpass' modernist curve high above the harbour, push peeriscopes through convenient holes to get a view of the bridge's foundations, and examine a geocache filled with old texts - accounts of the epic strike, but also texts that document other neglected parts of local history. There are newspaper articles about subjects like opium deals and dens in Mangere, officials' attempts to make the old Mangere bridge a whites' only zone, and a raid on Onehunga's greengrocer by cops who were looking for Bolshevik literature rather than courgettes.
Ian Powell will be filming proceedings with one of his antique, suitcase-sized cameras.
Footnote: you can find GPS coordinates for the cache here, along with reports from searchers.
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]