Jane Kelsey

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Jane Kelsey

Jane Kelsey is a New Zealand activist.


Jane Kelsey was scarcely raised as a firebrand. Her father was "a public servant in the truest sense of the word; he believed he served the public", she recalls, a Hokianga kid who took a job with the Tourist Bureau and ended up as its director. That meant young Jane was raised and schooled on both sides of the Tasman, wherever her father was heading an office.

Trained in law at Victoria University, Kelsey did a master's degree at Oxford and postgraduate work in criminology at Cambridge. The innocent abroad, she "freaked out for the first month or two" before settling down. At Oxford, she "learnt to swim rather than sink", she says, but at Cambridge was baptised by left-thinking Marxist scholars who taught her the political theory that, a quarter of a century later, underpins her daily work.[1]

Auckland University

1979 - joined staff at Auckland University Law faculty.

Anti-racism/Treaty activism

1976 - Member of ACORD.

1980s - involved in People Opposed to Waitangi.

1985-87 - wrote articles in Race Gender Class about Treaty.

1986 July, Wrote article in No 3 RGC "Te Tiriti O Waitangi and the Bill of Rights".

1986 - appointed by Government as Secretary/Research Co-ordinator of the Advisory Committee on Legal Services. Their report called for "full funding programmes which actively promote Maori self-determination."

Circa 1986 - wrote, with David Williams booklet "A Beginners Guide to Anti-Racism"

1988 March 10, stated in Press that a dual court system for Maori & Pakeha should be established in order to develop accountability for the Waitangi TribunalÕs decisions. Also said the Govt was hearing submissions on the Treaty of Waitangi (State Owned Enterprises) Bill just to get Maori demands off its back.

1988 - Helped write book "Honouring the Treaty" with other leftists. p 144...

"Racism is so deeply embedded in our individual consciousness and in the structure and operation of our nation that it seems part of the natural order of things. To rid ourselves of this requires a major commitment to change and a willingness to re-educate ourselves. This is an ongoing process, often painful and even frightening, but also liberating. PW and church-based anti-racism programmes are among the groups available to help individuals and organisations with workshops and resource material." Few institutions and organisations in this country escape being racist. All of us have influence somewhere, be it as teachers, students or parents of pupils in educational institutions, as workers at whatever level in central and local government departments or private organisations... We must be conscious of that influence and act on it."

1990 - author of "A Question of Honour", calling on the Govt to "Honour the Treaty".

1990 - presented paper to Commonwealth Law Conference on the Treaty & Maori independence.


1987 - Headed an Human Rights Commission fact-finding mission to the Philippines.[2]

Left groups

1988 - - involved in Workers Communist League front group Left Alternative.

1988 spoke at Auckland Feminar organized by Left Alternative on Rogernomics and its implications.[3]

1989 - supporter of campaign co-ordinated in NZ by Socialist Action League to free convicted rapist and unionist Mark Curtis, jailed in America.

1990 - guest speaker at the Socialism Meets Feminism conference at Christchurch Polytech on Aug 4-5 on "1990 & the Treaty".

1991 July 19-21, speaker at New Labor Party "Eco-nomics - Jobs & the Environment" conf held in Auckland.

1994 - Kelsey attendeded the Peoples Assembly at Elsdon Youth Camp in Porirua, final meeting of the BOOF Project. Recommended alteration of Peoples Charter from support for republic to Aoteoroa will be fully de-colonised. Te Tiriti O Waitangi will form our constitutional base. Was adopted. [4]

"Human Rights" conference

25th June, 1989 on list of prospective delegates to closed "Human Rights" conference held at Parliament Buildings - representing Asian Human Rights Commission.

Anti Free Trade activism

1990 - Observer at GATT talks & previous NGO in Brussels with journalist credentials, representing Maori Council of Churches.

November 20, 1991, Jane Kelsey spoke at the Stringleman Room Christchurch, with Rob Steven, David Small & Syd Jackson on horrors of GATT & Free Trade.

1995 - Aoteoroa/NZ APEC Monitoring Group member. [5]

July 96 - one of Aucklanders credited with helping NZ tour by Mexican Anti Free Trade activist Dr A. V. Calderon.[6]

1999 - speaker at Alternatives to Apec Conference Auckland Sept. 10/12 Professor of Law, Auckland University, author of several books,including the best-selling "The New Zealand Experiment: A World Model For Structural Adjustment?" and her latest, "Reclaiming The Future" (Bridget Williams Books).

Dr Kelsey is a nationally and internationally renowned authority on APEC, globalisation, and the New Zealand market reforms. She is also currently President of the Association of University Staff (AUS) and a member of the APEC Monitoring Group.

Women's Conference Against APEC, Law School, Old Government Buildings, 19-20 June 1999,The Conference is sponsored by the APEC Monitoring Group. The Organising Committee members are: Leigh Cookson, Bronwyn Cross, Maxine Gay, Tere Harrison, Caroline Hatt, Prue Hyman, Tanja Shutz, Luci Highfield, Jane Kelsey, Annie Newman, Christina Rizos, Gillian Southey, Tali Williams.

In 2003, more than 100 people crowded into Wellington City Council chambers to attend the launch of Professor Jane Kelsey's "Serving whose interests?", a shocking expose on what the secretly negotiated GATS (the General Agreement on Trade in Services) means for New Zealanders.

AUS/Academic activism

1996 - speaker at launch of Public Tertiary Education Coalition.[7]

1997 - Academic VP Association of University Staff.

1998/99 AUS national president.

Bruce Jesson Trust

2000 - Secretary of Bruce Jesson Trust.


2001 - Robert Reid Trustee of ARENA with Peter Cranney, Joe Davies, Jane Kelsey, Gillian Southey, Nick McBride.

2001 - Initial Sponsors of ARENA, Dr Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law, Auckland University; Moana Jackson, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou; Maxine Gay, President, NZ Trade Union Federation; Cherryl Waerea-i te-rangi Smith, Ngati Apa, Ngati Kahungunu, Te Aitanga A Hauiti; Robert Reid, Campaign Coordinator, Jubilee 2000 Aotearoa; Radha D’Souza, APEC Monitoring Group; Aziz Choudry, Coordinator, GATT Watchdog; Annette Sykes, Ngati Pikiao; Bill Rosenberg, CAFCA; Leigh Cookson, GATT Watchdog; David Small, Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Canterbury; Gillian Southey; Joe Davies, Coordinator, East Timor Independence Centre Otautahi; Murray Horton, CAFCA; Trish Murray; GATT Watchdog; Aotearoa/New Zealand APEC Monitoring Group; NZ Trade Union Federation; PSNA; Christian World Service; CAFCA.

Since 2001 Maxine Gay has also been a trustee of Christchurch based anti-globalisation organisation ARENA, with Robert Reid, Peter Cranney, Joe Davies, Jane Kelsey, Gillian Southey, Nick McBride and Prue Hyman.

Jobs Research Trust

2001 - sustaining donor Jobs Research Trust, Palmerston North.

Meeting Noam Chomsky


NZ Committee to Free the Cuban Five

Circa 2009, the list of Initiating Members and Supporters of the New Zealand Committee to Free the Cuban Five, included Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law, Auckland.[8]

US Embassy letter/Cuban 5

On 6 April 2009 US Embassy in Wellington refused to accept a hand delivered letter from MPs, City Councillors, trade unionists, church leaders,academics and other New Zealanders calling on the US Government not to oppose the petition to the US Supreme Court for the release of the Cuban 5.

An attempt to deliver the letter was made by Wellington City Councillor, Ray Ahipene-Mercer and Secretary of the Weliington Cuba Friendship Society Gillian Magee but US Embassy Guards said they would not accept a hand delivered letter.[9]

Dear Attorney General Holder
We, the undersigned New Zealanders are writing this letter to you on the eve of the US Government submitting a brief in response to the 30 January 09 petition to the Supreme Court and the twelve separate amicus curiae briefs that were filed in the US Supreme Court on 6 March 2009 regarding the unjust incarceration of five Cuban citizens - Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, René González Sehweret, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort - known as the Cuban 5.
We urge the United States Government to acknowledge that a complete miscarriage of justice has taken place regarding the Cuban 5 and to support, rather than oppose, a review of the conviction by the Supreme Court. We urge you to immediately release the Cuban 5.

Signatories included Jane Kelsey.

Involvement with Global Peace and Justice

On Monday 11th February 2002, a meeting was called to discuss the formation of a Network for Global Peace and Justice. The purpose of such a network was to help strengthen the efforts of the many groups already working on a whole variety of issues and to perhaps give a collective voice to concerns they hold in common.

The meeting was held in the Trades Hall, 157 Great North Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland, Monday 8th April. The invitation to this had the following footnote: "Yours in Solidarity, Terry Dibble, Maire Leadbetter, Mike Treen, John Minto, Jane Kelsey, David Colyer, Lynne Serpe, Len Richards, Love Chile, Geraldine Peters.

Treen , along with veteran activist John Minto, comprised the two main contacts for this left-wing pressure group Global Peace and Justice which was primarily Auckland based.

As Treen was to say: "Over the last few years I have also been one of the main leaders of Global Peace and Justice Auckland which organized the large antiwar marches around the Iraq war and intervention in Afghanistan and tries to network all the groups in Auckland concerned with peace, justice and globalization issues.