Barney Richards

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Barney Richards

Barney Richards is a New Zealand activist.


Richards grew up in Wellington, attending Newtown school.

"Barney's attitudes were formed early in life by his father, who had the greatest influence on him. 'He was a very strong unionist - a watersider in '51.' . . . He recalled those days during the 1951 waterside dispute: 'I sold papers outside the Pier Hotel for 10 bob a week to help the family income'." Described by SUP's Ella Ayo as well known peace fighter in Wellington, established Manners St. peace stall. Rubbish truck driver, lived all his life in the capital.[1]

Gensuikyo conference

Barney Richards September 11, 2010 ·


Cora and Barney Richards at the Gensuikyo conference 1993.


Circa 1983 - Barney Richards recruited into the Socialist Unity Party after meeting John Van de Ven in his 2nd hand shop in Porirua. Had been recently divorced & was at a loose end.

Richards was assigned a role in the Peace Movement.

1985 - member SUP.

Greeting Soviet ambassador

1984 August 6, wrote article in Tribune about NZ-USSR Friendship Society reception for new Soviet ambassador Bykov in Wellington.

Peace activism

1983, Sept. 26, featured in Worker Profile in Tribune. Drivers delegate Wellington City Council: "'We had a job meeting at 11 o'clock at night. Jackson Smith, the union secretary, came to that meeting and began talking about how our job was part of the world & all the things that went on in it. He talked about peace & politics. After years of no interest it all came together at that meeting. I became the job delegate & became closely involved with my union's executive. It really took off from then. . .

I have dedicated the rest of my life to fight for world peace. I became involved in the Peace Council, CND and Greenpeace. If it has something to do with peace, I want to be involved. My union has also given me responsibility in this area.'

As a result of those responsibilities Barney helped to arrange the protests for Hiroshima Day and the USS Texas visit. He was elated with the success. 'But there was a bit of anti-Soviet feeling. Not in the organising, but on the march. Fortunately there wasn't too much of that. . . I've come to realise that socialism and peace cannot be separated.'"

1983 Sept 24-25, helped organise SUP stall at Wellington peace festival. Wellington Peace Council, Greenpeace, womens and other political groups also held stalls.[2]

1984, May 14, featured in Tribune article about ceremony in Wellington's Civic Square to mark 2nd anniversary of city's nuclear free zone. He represented New Zealand Council for World Peace, and presented a badge to councillor Rex Nicholls. Reps of 10 Wellington peace groups attended, and were addressed by Laurie Salas.

1985-89 Chairman Wellington Committee New Zealand Council for World Peace.

1987 - attended AAPSO Presidential Committee meeting in Mongolia. [3]

1988 - attended International peace conference Fordham University USA.

1988 April 25, Barney Richards wrote article in SUP's Tribune about prominent US peace activist and unionist Shirley Lens. He had just escorted her, introducing her to peace activists and trade union leaders, including: CTU President & SUP member Ken Douglas, Sonja Davies, members of IPPNW, member of Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, Peace House, Victoria University, Secretary Shop Employees Union.

1989 October 2, wrote article in Tribune on his trip to the 1989 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, August 3-9 in Japan. He was a delegate along with Gerald O'Brien from the New Zealand Council for World Peace.

1989 Article in SUP's Tribune interviewing him showing his 8 years of work manning the peace stall outside the opera house in Manners St.[4]

1990 June 18, wrote article in Tribune on school-children forming an anti-nuclear group "nucleus". These useful idiots spoke with reps. from each of the three major parties on the anti-nuclear stance.

1991 Feb 25, interviewed inTribune about the Gulf War. Part of the Wellington Committee on the Gulf Crisis.

1991, March 11, photo in Tribune with caption underneath: "WPC stalwart Barney Richards protests".

August 1992 - Chairman New Zealand Council for World Peace, attended with Gerald O'Brien, World Conference Against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs in Japan. Richards spoke to university & high school groups, consumers co-operatives & the New Japan Womens Association. "The actions of the NZ council in protesting against the visit of Japanese naval vessels to Wellinogton in July was much praised". [5]

1993 - began regular Co chairing World Conference Against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs in Japan.

1994 - CTU rep on National Consultative Committee on Disarmament.

1990s Wellington Chairman and Nat executive member Peace Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

1197 Attended WAAHB conference in Jqpan.

1997 - Barney Richards and Collin Willis of Wellington Committee of Peace Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, with John Hampton, CND and Rev. Jim Stuart of St Andrews organized a public meeting to celebrate 10th anniversary of anti nuclear legislation, David Lange and Dave Morgan spoke.[6]

2002 -05, ongoing - National Sectary Peace Council of Aotearoa New Zealand

2005 - The Japanese port of Kobe was officially declared nuclear-free on March 18, 1975. It is to this day the only nuclear-free harbour in Japan. This is a major reason why a delegation of peace activists from Kobe chose to visit nuclear-free New Zealand in November 2005. They were hosted by veteran anti-nuclear activist Barney Richards of the New Zealand Peace Foundation.

Murray Horton and I had the pleasure of meeting them and discussing our foreign bases (rather minor by Japanese standards) over a period of three days

Message of Hibakusha

The message of Hibakusha must be heard. Their message is spread around the world, and that includes Nuclear-free New Zealand where my peace group has hosted many visits from them.

It is important that the world hear from atom bomb victims the true horror of the use of nuclear weapons. I look forward to meeting my Hibakusha friends when I travel to Japan again next year. No more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis!

(Barney Richards, New Zealand Peace Council) 12:33 Oct. 26, 2006

Open Letter to Obama on Iran

In 2008 Barney Richards of the New Zealand Peace Council, NZ signed an online petition “A Open Letter to Barack Obama on Iran”.[7]

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 Barney Richards, National Secretary, Peace Council Aotearoa New Zealand.[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 Barney Richards, President Peace Council Aotearoa New Zealand.

Horoshima memorial

About 40 members of the public, local figures and diplomats gathered at the Peace Flame in the Botanic Gardens August 2011, to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

It was also an opportunity to consider Wellington’s historic role at the forefront of the anti-nuclear movement in New Zealand.

Secretary of the Peace Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, Barney Richards said too many countries now possess nuclear weapons, and criticised the Japanese government for its inaction.

“We’re no safer, let’s face the facts – we’re building a new generation of nuclear weapons,” he said.

“Now I hear Japan is thinking of going that way. Prominent Japanese politicians have said they should have their own nuclear deterrent.”

Mr Richards said he had hosted atomic bomb victims in the past, and New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance had been an inspiration to them.[10]