John Minto

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John Minto


John Bernard Minto, is a veteran New Zealand socialist activist.

Early life

Minto was born in Dunedin and lived in Napier when young.

Introduction to Maoist anti-Apartheid figure

In the 1970's, Minto was the Auckland delegate to the National Anti-Apartheid Coalition.

Minto had, for years been an inveterate anti-Apartheid activist, and appears, in his early days with the cause, to have been inspired by his first encounter with passionate leftist and member of the Maoist Workers Communist League, Rona Bailey. He said this of the occasion: "I first met Rona in 1976 at a meeting of the National Anti-Apartheid Committee in Wellington. I was a rep from Napier and new to the movement. Rona was a 'legend' already. She was a veteran in all senses of the word compared to most of us. She was much older and had been involved for a long time previously".[1]

Ongoing committment to anti-Apartheid cause

In 1978, Minto was the contact for the Auckland Anti-Apartheid Committee. This was advertised in the Soviet aligned Socialist Unity Party newspaper the Tribune.[2]

Involvement with HART

In November, 1980, Minto had become the Halt All Racist Tours National Counciller.

It was noted in Unity - the newspaper of the Maoist Workers Communist League - that Minto was, during the HART AGM in Wellington, on December 5 1981, elected as HART National Chairman.[3]

In October 1988, Minto was editor of HART's Amandla publication.[4]

By October 1990, he remained the editor of same.[5]

From 1988-89, Minto was spokesman for "HART Aotearoa" as it's name in full was now called.

In 1990, Minto was arrested when protesting with HART demonstrators while outside the Benson and Hedges Tennis match in Auckland. He was charged with obstructing a policeman. He pleaded not guilty.[6]

Further to the above incident, some of the other protesters to be arrested there were Judy Keall, Graeme Keall and Dick Cuthbert.[7]

In 1991, Minto was the International Secretary for HART.

In 1993, he had become the leader of HART.

Pressuring companies to cease commercial activities with S.A.

Minto was, evidently around 1980, the coordinator of the campaign to get insurance companies to discontinue business contacts with South Africa.[8]

It was reported, in 1987, that the major New Zealand company, Fletcher Challenge, had flown the HART leadership - (Minto, Dick Cuthbert) - to Wellington for talks on their trade with South Africa. "Mr Minto and his team met Fletcher Challenge's chief, Sir Ronald Trotter, for about one and a half hours." "...Sir Ronald had argued the company was taking a lead in biculturalism". Minto was very pleased with the results of the meeting, and earlier HART had met the leadership of another large New Zealand company - Brierly's, to debate similar issues.[9]

In May 17, 1989, Minto was a member of a delegation which included the Reverend Richard Randerson, James Kidson, trade unionist Angela Foulkes and Thomas Shanahan to Shell New Zealand Managing Director B. Dineen, urging Shell to withdraw from South Africa.[10]

Radical tactics

In 1981, Minto, as part of HART, was busy organising anti-tour activities out of the offices of the SUP controlled Northern Drivers Union. The SUP, however, didn't really like HART's radical tactics.

SIS concern

By 1981, Minto was the HART National Organiser. The Security Intelligence Service released a report which noted that he was a fanatic prepared to use bomb hoaxes and other means of inconveniencing the public in persuit of his opposition to apartheid.

Splinter group with violent element

In August , 1981, Minto was a leader of the Small Action Group, along with Maori radicals Donna Awatere and Ripeka Evans. SAG was a splinter group of MOST, which was formed in August 1981 and attracted a violent element. Indeed, SAG recruited from Auckland urban Maori gangs; fanatical groups like Black Unity; Women's Action for Change and the Maori and Polynesian People's Revolutionary Front.[11]

Involvement with Trotskyists

In 1981, the Trotskyist Socalist Action League's Paper Socialist Action, carried an interview with Minto.[12]

Minto addressed the SAL's 7th National Conference which took place in Masterton from December 5th 1981 to January 1 1982.[13]

Minto obviously valued his association with the Trotskyists: On July 16, 1982, Minto wrote a letter to Socialist Action giving his change of address.[14]

Minto welcomes U.S. Trotskyist

In 1982, Minto welcomed American leftist Mac Warren of the Trotskyist American Socialist Workers Party, to Otahuhu.[15]

SIS list of subversives

In August 25, 1981, the then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon had released an SIS list of 15 anti-tour subversives - Minto being one of them.[16]

Anti-tour demonstrations and marches

On September 12, 1981, at the 3rd Springbok - All Black rugby test at Eden Park, Minto was linked arm-in-arm with fellow demonstrator and seaman T. Greegan, who claims he was battoned by the police.[17]

Evidently on the same day as above, Minto was present at an anti-tour march at Fowlds Park, Auckland.[18]

Police raid

On September 12 1981, the police raided the anti-tour head quarters and confiscated some protester's shields. Minto, Peter Purdue and Dick Cuthbert objected.[19]

Support for Maori activists

On September, 1981, Terry Marshall wrote a report for Socialist Action in which he noted that 350 people - including Minto and David Williams - who had been taking part in the anti-tour riots that day, (September 12), were invited on to Orakei Marae by Joseph Hawke and Robert Hawke.[20]

On January 28, 1982, Minto was among 200 well wishers who gathered at the Bay of Plenty to farewell 150 marchers destined for Waitangi - (where the treaty with the Maoris was signed).[21]

Minto fund raising for alleged Maori terrorists

In October 2007, Global Peace and Justice were advertising for donations towards a defence fund, for alleged maori terrorists. Initial patrons of the fund were Minto, Jane Kelsey, Simon Oosterman and Mike Treen.

Condemnation of U.S. invasion of Grenada

Minto was one of many whose name appeared in Socialist Action condemning the American invasion of Grenada which saw the removal of the extreme left-wing revolutionary regime there.[22]

"Mintoppression"

In March, 1985, an interview with Minto by Trotskyist Steven Cowan appeared in the University of Canterbury student newspaper Canta, concerning Minto's take on oppression. In keeping with the usual left-wing obsession with race, class and gender issues, he said:"Oppression of all forms is linked. Oppression of women, oppression of working people, oppression of the indigenous people of a country".[23]

Message to conservative Catholicism

In 1986, Minto was a signatory to an ad which appeared in the Catholic newspaper Zealandia, headed "Dear Pope John Paul". It called for the ordination of women, acceptance of divorced & remarried people and decentralisation of Church authority.[24]

Signatory to Communist Party petition

In 1990, Minto signed a petition which appeared in the People's Voice - the newspaper of the Stalinist Communist Party of New Zealand - headed "Join us in a united campaign to defeat the compact". (The compact referred to some industrial policy being implimented by the govenment at the time, which some of the left were vigorously opposed to).[25]

Signatory to Socialist Workers Organisation petition

In 2000, Minto once again displayed his enthusiasm for militant industrial action when he, along with alot of other leftists and unionists, signed a Socialist Workers organisation petition called Freedom to Strike.

Steering committe for Workers Charter

In 2005, Minto was by now truly in the thick of militant industrial activity:

On July 2, a Steering Committee of 20 - which included Minto - emerged from a Workers Charter meeting. Held in Auckland, those in attendance were (in alphabetical order) :

Later in the year, on October 22, a Workers Charter conference was held at the Trades Hall, 147 Great North Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland, from 10am to 5pm. The media were welcomed to attend. There was a Media Conference at 12.30 on the day which was hosted by Luke Coxon and Daphne Lawless (co-chairs of the Conference) and Minto and Matt McCarten were spokespeople for the Conference Working Group.

MayDay letter to Council of Trade Unions

In 2008, an open letter was sent to the Council of Trade Unions, which read as follows: MAYDAY LETTER TO HELEN KELLY, CTU PRESIDENT, "We would like to extend our solidarity to our hard working junior doctors, whose organisation, the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association, finds itself attacked by the representative of the Council of Trade Unions for giving 'unions a bad name' in the media. It is our belief that the job of unions is to represent their members, and not the ruling political party of the day. In that, the NZRDA is to be congratulated for standing up for its workers rights, and it is the CTU leadership that needs a lesson in giving the union movement a good name by supporting rather that attacking those who are in struggle".

Signed-

Involvement with education

In 1990, Minto was the Post Primary Teachers Association Hillary College branch chairman.

As of 1990, Minto was a teacher and was living in Sandringham.

In 1999, Minto was the chairman of the Quality Public Education Coalition.

In the same year, he was still a school teacher.

Involvement with United Nations

In 1990, Minto was elected as Vice-President of the United Nations Conference Against Apartheid Sport.

Support for day of action

On September 23 1991, the People's Voice recorded Minto as a backer of the "Day of Action" against the government.[27]

Demonstration against Rabuka

On October 6, 1991, Minto was involved in the leftist dominated Coalition for Democracy in Fiji demonstration against Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka's arrival in New Zealand.

Training activists

In April 1994, Minto was scheduled as a speaker on "Building the Fightback-lessons for mass activists", which was held at the Communist Party of New Zealand's Socialism '94 conference, in Auckland.[28]

Alternatives to APEC speaker

In 1999, Minto was a speaker at the left dominated Alternatives to APEC Conference held in Auckland from September 10-12.

Social justice worker

In 1999, Minto was a "social justice" worker.

Involvement with Global Peace and Justice organisation

In 2002, the left dominated organisation Global Peace and Justice Auckland, had advertised two contacts for further information. They were: Minto - email and Mike Treen - email.

Proposal to form Network for Peace and Justice

Also in 2002, on Monday, February 11, 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 to be held in the Supper Room, Trades Hall, 157 Great North Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland, on Monday 8th April at 7.30pm. The clarion call was concluded with "Yours in Solidarity" and the following people - in addition to Minto - put their names to this:

Speaker at radical gathering

In 2004, it was noted in The Spark - the magazine of the militant left group, the Workers Party of New Zealand, that Minto was a speaker at the Anti Capitalist Alliance - organized conference called Peoples Resistance '04, held in June at the Trades Hall in Auckland. (The Anti Capitalist Alliance was the precursor of the Workers Party of New Zealand).[29]

Workers Charter conference

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Matt McCarten, John Minto and Socialist Worker hosted a “Workers Charter” meeting Saturday October 11 2006, in Auckland.

The Workers Charter Movement was the embryo of a new left wing political party, modeled on the successful British “Respect” coalition and the less successful Australian Socialist Alliance. It was also a co-ordinating body for militant union trade union activity. The “movement” published a “Workers Charter” newspaper.

This Saturday, 7th October, starts 11am

Auckland Trades Hall 147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn

11 – 11.10am Welcome from chair (Daphne Lawless).
11.10am – 12.30pm – Workers Charter, a paper for the movement – introduced by John Minto (editorial) & Bronwyn Summers (financial).
1.30 – 3pm – Unions in the 21st century – intro by Laila Harre (NDU), Andrew Little (EPMU), Sue Bradford (Green MP), Mengzhu (Radical Youth) and Joe Carolan (unionist & socialist).
3.15 – 4pm – Human Rights for Workers campaign – introduced by Vaughan Gunson (unionist & socialist) and Eliana Darroch (Radical Youth).
4pm – 4.30 pm – Graham Matthews, Australian unionist.
4.30 – 4.45pm – election of expanded, national editorial board of Workers Charter paper.
4.45 – 5.30pm – Climaction Day (4 November) to build a campaign for

System Change, Not Climate Change. Speaker(s) to be confirmed.[30]

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 John Minto, Global Peace and Justice Auckland.[31]

Protesting Israeli tennis player

Police arrest protester john minto as the pro pale 1469319554.jpeg

Mana Party launch

At the launch of the Mana Party, in 2011, on the stage with Hone Harawira to express their solidarity and support were some of the most well-known names from the left, union, Maori rights and social justice movements. They included Annette Sykes (Ngati Pikiao, lawyer and activist), Matt McCarten (general secretary of Unite Union), John Minto (leader of the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s and spokesperson for Global Peace and Justice Auckland), Sue Bradford (unemployed workers rights leader in the 1980s and 1990s and former Green Party MP), Syd Keepa (Maori vice-president of the Council of Trade Unions), Nandor Tanczos (former Green MP), Margaret Mutu (Ngāti Kahu’s chief negotiator, the chairperson of Te Rūnanga-a-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu and the professor of Māori Studies at Auckland University). Most groups that describe themselves as socialist, such as Socialist Aotearoa, the Workers Party, Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Organisation, have also generally greeted the emergence of this new party positively.[32]

References

  1. RB Weblog 2005
  2. Tribune April 10 1978
  3. Unity Volume 4 Number 21
  4. Amandla October 1988
  5. Amandla 1990
  6. Dominion January 9 1990
  7. Star January 9 1990
  8. Amandla November 1980
  9. Christchurch Star October 20 1987
  10. Amandla June 1989
  11. Storm out of Africa page 109
  12. Socialist Action August 7 1981 page 5
  13. Socialist Action January 22 1982 page 3
  14. Socialist Action July 16 1982
  15. Socialist Action February 5 1982
  16. Socialist Action September 4 1981
  17. Socialist Action September 18 1981 page 1
  18. Socialist Action September 18 1981 Page 2
  19. Socialist Action September 18 1981 page 3
  20. Socialist Action September 18 1981
  21. Socialist Action February 5 1982
  22. Socialist Action November 4 1983
  23. Canta Volume 55 March 5 1985
  24. Zealandia November 17 1986
  25. Peoples Voice April 2 1990
  26. Socialist Aotearoa blog April 27 2008
  27. People's Voice September 23 1991
  28. WV December
  29. Spark April 27 2004
  30. [http://archive.indymedia.org.nz/article/72416/workers-charter-conference, www.indymedia.org.nz Workers Charter Conference Submitted by Anonymous on 4 October 2006]
  31. Initiating Members and Supporters of the NZ Committee to Free the Cuban Five
  32. LINKS, Aotearoa/New Zealand: A new working-class, pro-Maori political voice.May 11, 2011