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On Friday May 26 in Auckland I attended a showing of the short documentary ‘Resist’, part of the Doc Edge documentary film festival playing at the Capital Cinema on Dominion Rd.

The Resist docu, was one of an eclectic  four short documentaries shown together. The first was about a man’s Lego hobby. Now I am not a great fan of Lego, adding as it does to the plastic pollution problem, but this film won me over. At the upliftending end of this docu. you will be cheering for the protagonist and his journey.
The Resist docu. was second up. The third was a short docu. about an Australian dysfunctional safari park.
The fourth short docu. was an animation of a woman’s recollection of growing up in an Israeli Kibutz. At the end of the showing the maker of the documentary spoke about growing up in in Israel, reading the room she corrected herself “sorry Palestine”.

Most of the crowd were there to see the docu. ‘Resist‘.

OHMS! Resist! Is one of four short docs in the NZ Shorts1 programme of DocEdge on 26 May in Auckland and 9 June in Wellington. Book at the DocEdge website. Come and see the 19 year old Robert Reid and mates bring down conscription in 1972.

Watch the trailer here:

Make sure you see this documentary

In 1964 at the height of the US war in Vietnam, in support of the American war effort, the Australian government brought in conscription for the war. More than 15 thousand Australians were conscripted and sent to Vietnam to fight. More than 200 died and at least 1,200 Australians were wounded.

In New Zealand the successful campaign to end compulsory military training, effectively prevented the New Zealand authorities bringing in conscription for Vietnam. But for this campaign, there are New Zealanders alive today who otherwise wouldn’t be.

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The peace movement and the anti Vietnam war movement in this country was very strong. I remember reading once, that New Zealand had the highest number of anti Vietnam war protesters per capita than any other country in the world. (including the US), and I believe it.

Especially memorable were the huge protests against Nixon’s Vice President Spiro T. Agnew visit to this country to drum up support for the war.

The Agnew demos were big. We had prepared weeks in advance for Agnew’s visit.
In Auckland, Agnew was put up in what was then called the ‘Big I’ or Hotel Intercontinental, a newly built and NZ first ever multistory hotel of American owned Hotel chain. The ‘Big I’ (under a new name and new owners), still stands to this day on the cnr. of Waterloo Quadrant and Princes Street near Auckland University.

I was present to witness the large antiwar demonstration outside the Big I the night the police attacked the protesters to clear them from the front of the hotel. What I recall was the incredible noise that the demonstration was able to generate against Agnew’s presence. I am sure that Agnew would have heard it. And it would have hugely pissed off. The police attack to disperse the demonstration was launched just before midnight.  Luckily for me, I had just left the protest. Reportedly the violence used by the police to clear the demonstration was incredible. The NZ Herald first edition next day described it as a police riot.

(later editions toned down the language).

A lot of people were batoned by the police, including including passers by.

After the baton charge the police chased the protesters down Princes Street and across Albert Park beating anyone they came across. One business man caught up in the ‘police riot’ described being chased across Albert Park when he stumbled and dropped his wallet and keys. Trying to pick them up, this business man was badly beaten with police batons while he was on the ground.

The pressure on NZ to increase this country’s support for the Vietnam war was intense.
I was very young then. I take my hat off to the older veterans of these protests, Roger Fowler, Robert Reid, the Lee brothers, Steve Robertshaw, my father and the many others whose names I have now since forgotten or only ever knew by their first names and the hundreds of others who stood with them that night, They overcame everything thrown at them and were proved right in the end.

It is my belief that their incredible campaign against the Vietnam war gave the New Zealand protest movement the experience and the strength to go on to stop racist sporting tours and nuclear ship visits.

This is a huge legacy.

At the end of the showing, the producers of the Resist documentary made a special mention to thank Doc Edge for giving their film a showing.

The pro-war establishment will never celebrate or even recall their defeat, but now you can by seeing this documentary. The next showing is in Wellington June 6 Don’t miss it.

Patrick John O’Dea is a staunch unionist and human rights activist


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