Matiu Rata

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Matiu Rata was close to the Socialist Unity Party in Auckland.


It is likely that one time Labour Cabinet Minister, Matiu Rata was a member of the Communist Party of New Zealand from the late ’40s to at least 1951. Rata was very active in union affairs at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops and in the Seaman’s Union, both hotbeds of CPNZ activity. As a talented young Maori unionist he would have been a prime target for recruitment.

Matiu Rata joined Labour in 1951 and a few years later became the MP for Northern Maori. In the ’60s, Rata was very active in the Citizens Association for Racial Equality, the leaders of which almost all came from socialist/communist backgrounds.

In the early ’70s, Rata was an executive member of the Labour Party and chairman, of Labour’s Maori policy committee

In 1975 Matiu Rata wrote the legislation which set up the Waitangi Tribunal, to examine historic Maori land grievances, while he was as Minister of Maori Affairs.

Was this connected to the “Government Commission composed of equal Maori representation to investigate all land questions considered in dispute by the Maori people nationally” agreed to as part of the Communist Party prgramme back in 1936?

Railways communists

Auckland SPA wrote the local CTU May Day Committee re holding a function for all former employees of the Otahuhu Railways workshops which was recently banged shut by Railcorp. The Shops has been the venue of much communist and progressive activity for many years and was the forum for debate and activity by long serving communists including George Jackson, the late Len Reid, Terry Knobbs, Steve Hieatt, Ray Gough, Doug McCallum, Mike Reddington, The late Tom Gale, Matiu Rata and many others. [1]

North Island Conference of Unemployed Workers

1984 March, Doug McCallum was convenor of 2-day Upper North Island Conference of Unemployed Workers at the Auckland Youth Resource Centre's Marae, organized by Auck UWU. All delegates represented unemployed workers organisations which identified with trade union movement. He saw forming of a regional body of unemployed workers orgs as most important result of conference. Speakers included Bill Andersen, Johnny Mitchell, Maryan Street, Matiu Rata, Peter Neilson and Tim Shadbolt.

Boycott Waitangi Day

1980 Jan 21, Hone Harawira spoke at meeting at Te Puke O Tura Community Hall to boycott Waitangi Day. He spoke with Syd Jackson and Matiu Rata.[2]



  1. SPA News Nov 1992 Page 12.
  2. [SA, Feb 1 '80]