Raised in Invercargill, Peter Hall-Jones comes from a prominent leftish Southland family. Peter Hall-Jones was involved in radical politics at Otago University in the early ’80s. He played for a time with well known punk/conceptual band, “The Axemen”.
In the mid ’80s Hall-Jones moved to Christchurch where he joined , the pro-Soviet, Socialist Unity Party.
Hall-Jones was also serving on the SUP’s Wellington regional executive and on the party’s Unemployment Commission.
In early 1987 Hall-Jones visited Moscow to help organise the 1989 World Festivals of Youth and Students.
In 1987/88 Peter Hall-Jones spent five months studying in Moscow with Wellington activist Roy Wilkie. The pair shared a room in Moscow, the rent of $5 per week being paid by Soviet government who also generously provided an allowance to pay for basic food stuffs.
In 1988 Hall-Jones moved back to Dunedin for awhile and was active with the local unemployed workers union.
In June that year he attended a World Federation of Democratic Youth meeting in Sydney along with on member of the SUP front New Zealand Council for World Peace and a member of NZ Labour (Socialist) Youth.
Most of late ’88 was spent organising the nationwide unemployed march on Parliament. A joint SUP/Communist Party of New Zealand/Workers Communist League enterprise, the March brought people from Northland to Bluff to the grounds of Parliament in protest at high unemployment rates.
Hall-Jones was a member of the march organising committee. I remember standing in the crowd in the grounds of Parliament, talking to a fanatic from the Permanent Revolution Group, while Peter and Willie Wilson from the Communist Party of New Zealand did their best to whip the 5,000 strong crowd into a frenzy.
Much of his spare time was spent recruiting delegates for that year’s communist youth festival in Pyongyang.
Later Hall-Jones began work as a communications officer for the Public Service Association.
Hall-Jones was involved with the young computer geeks of the Party’s Wellington based “Gordon Watson” branch (named after a prominent NZ communist killed in Italy in WW2). He also became active inthe “progressive” computer network PlaNet, working in its national office for a time.
Sometime in the ’90s the Gordon Watson Branch left the SUP and joined Bill Andersen’s more militant Socialist Party of Aotearoa.
Hall-Jones seems to have remained in the SUP camp however.
I phoned Hall-Jones at the PSA in 2003 and asked him if he was sill in the SUP.
He replied that he had “been out of party 20, no 10 years” and didn’t even know how to contact the SUP-despite working in the same office as several other “ex” party members.
In 1998, Hall-Jones wrote a cryptic message on a thread on the under the heading “is Socialism Dead? ”
- “Ideology is for idiots! Socialists, many of whom would not call themselves such, have stepped away from low level sloganeering and posturing and have started to negotiate real change at industry level.”
This indicates to me that Peter may have been more “plugged in” to the SUP network than he was letting on.
In the last few years, Hall-Jones has worked as a communications officer for Public Service International in London. Coincidentally, PSI’s assistant General secretary is another former SUP member and PSA official, Mike Waghorne.
Hall-Jones is a driving force in the New Unionism Network, launched in January 2007.
The Network, claims that recent data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows that more unions are growing than shrinking.
“Manufacturing has moved en masse to less developed countries, and these are the very nations with the worst infrastructure for collecting statistics. So we are losing members on one hand, and not counting new ones on the other. What evidence we have found points to very strong union growth in these developing countries, but almost all of it is off the radar,” said Peter Hall-Jones, a spokesman for the network.
Back in NZ, Hall-Jones, an activist with the Wellington Unemployed Workers Union, helps to recruit some of the 20 plus delegates required.
His Party comrade, Harry Nowell is charged with organising the finance and logistics.
Nowell moves into the HQ of the taxpayer funded ($135,000 pa) National Youth Council and uses their resources and networks to carry out his work.
The NYC has been infiltrated by several SUP linked organisations, including its youth wing (Young Workers Alliance) and the Hawkes Bay CTU Peace Committee. Other organisations involved include Labour Youth, Red Mole, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Outward Bound and the Girl Guides.
Invercargill recruiter is Apoua Fuatavai of the SUP controlled Southland Unemployed Rights Centre. Wellington recruiter is unionist Robert Winters (currently) running a bakery in Scotland). Christchurch recruiter is Peter Hall-Jones, now studying at Canterbury University and working with the Christchurch Unemployed Rights Collective.
Hall-Jones recruits a handful of Christchurch youth including Canterbury University Peace Group member, Maria McMillan.
Unfortunately, the delegates are to travel to Pyongyang via Beijing.
When Peoples liberation Army tanks crush unarmed students Tianmen Square, at least one delegate, McMillan, pulls out. This is allegedly because her father (senior Christchurch Press journalist Stuart McMillan), forbids her to go.
23 NZers do arrive in Pyongyang however, for the July 1 opening ceremony. They are blown away by the scale of the event.
22,000 delegates from 177 countries are in attendance, united by the slogan “For anti-Imperialist Solidarity, Peace and Friendship”
The opening ceremony is held in an 150,000 capacity stadium, with a cast of 70,000, including 20,000 schoolchildren who have been drilling continuously for 5 months (often until 2am).
The children hold coloured cards, changing them on cue to make giant pictures of doves, factories and the great leader Kim Il Sung.
Delegates are told that event has cost the North Korean peasants and workers $100 million.
The entire capital is mobilised for the event. Flag waving children are everywhere and the Festival is played continuously on TV. The North Koreans have even printed special money, to be withdrawn at the end of the festival “so as not to distort the economy“.
One Kiwi delegate is “confined to barracks” for 24 hours for venturing out without his special pass.
Delegates must attend forums such as “the anti Imperialist Tribunal“, “Peace and Disarmament” and “Education” and “Young Trade Unionist” meetings.
At the Pacific Caucus progress is made on “working towards a nuclear free and independent Pacific, educating pacific youth on environmental issues and getting solidarity for a more meaningful look at the past 150 years of colonialism in New Zealand”.
A Pacific wide organisation is formed to unite these three issues-South Pacific United Youth Association (SPUYA).
Several NZers join SPUYA including Hannah Swartz, Robert Winters (former NYC executive member), the late James Nihoniho (Maori Affairs Department and NYC), Gill Plimmer (NYC National Director) and Margaret Bartlett (NYC Pakeha Caucus Coordinator).
Their job is to organise SPUYA’s inaugural conference, to be held in 1990 at Waitangi, NZ.
The SPUYA committee meets with indigenous youth to “talk about common issues and focus on NZ 1990″
NZ delegates hold meetings with representatives of the Soviet Union, Gambia, Ghana and and North Korea.
Contacts are also made with people from the notoriously communist infiltrated University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.
On July 8th, there is a massive closing ceremony and the delegates prepare to leave.
Waitangi Day, 1990 is special. it is the 150th anniversary of the signing of NZ’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi.
The NZ police warn that several groups are planning to disrupt the February 6th celebrations.
Writing in the SUP’s “Tribune” of September 4 1989, Robert Winters lets the cat out of the bag;
“SPUYA’s conference will be held in Waitangi for four days prior to Waitangi day 1990. This has been planned to coincide with Waitangi Day, to enable Pacific youth to join in any action being planned for that day.”