[imc-wellington] Fwd: May Day May Day

Steve Russell steve.russell at nzfa.org.nz
Sun Apr 22 00:47:35 UTC 2007

(apologies for cross-posting)

May Day Matters
Thursday 3 May 2007
Start time: 6.00pm (note time), Entry by koha

Two key films, The Bridge and Wildcat, documenting the
struggles of  working people in New Zealand during the late
1970s and early 1980s,  introduced by Dr Russell Campbell of
Vanguard Films.  Presented in  commemoration of May Day. In
conjunction with Darcy Lange: Study of an  Artist at Work, a
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Exhibition, at the Adam  Art
Gallery 24 March - 13 May 2007

Venue: NZ Community Trust Mediatheatre
NZ Film Archive, cnr Taranaki & Ghuznee Streets, Wellington

The Bridge – A Story of Men in Dispute (NZ, 1982)
Written and directed by Gerd Pohlmann and Merata Mita
Photography: Leon Narbey
Narrator: Zac Wallace
57 minutes, M no notes
“In late May 1978, 142 carpenters and labourers on the
Mangere Bridge  construction site in Auckland were sacked
over a redundancy dispute.  The bridge workers declared the
job ‘black’ and began to picket the  site. The company
retaliated by refusing to negotiate. A stalemate  ensued,
which was to become the longest industrial dispute in New
Zealand history: two and a half years.
This film looks at the events which took place during that
time. It  shows how a diverse group of people were thrown
together and how the dispute affected their lives. As well,
it’s an insiders view of trade unionism called into
action.  Intially there was determination. Men were
co-operating, taking on  roles they had never had to deal
with before. [But] as the months wore on,  however, the
workers entered a struggle with employers and  government.
financial worries, frustrations, disillusionment and the 
group’s internal wrangles. But who was to blame? Gradually
their number  dwindled to a hard core of sixteen who lasted
the length of the dispute.  The price the workers paid for
the two and a half years of struggle was  high. Living under
the shadow of the dispute became their life-style.  However
they do have the satisfaction in knowing that other
employers  ‘took note’ of Mangere Bridge and that
construction workers all over the country benefited from
their perseverence. In many ways the film is rather a drama
than a documentary and is reminiscent in various parts of a
stage play. It is narrated by Zac  Wallace, chairman of the
disputes committee and of the sixteen to last  the distance.
Above all The Bridge is
an account of New Zealand working  class life in the
seventies...” –Gerd Pohlmann

followed by

Wildcat : The Struggle for Democracy in the NZ
Timberworkers’ Union  (NZ, 1981)
A film by Rod Prosser, Russell Campbell and Alister Barry
Production co: Vanguard Films, for the Combined Council of
Delegates,  NZ Timberworkers’ Union
73 mins, M contains offensive language

“This film is a MUST!” - Socialist Action.    “This is
the sort of  rubbish that gets Arts Council help.” –
Norm Jones, National MP
Discontent amongst timberworkers over the
running of their union had  beeen simmering for years.
Members accused the national executive of  exerting
dictatorial control and of making deals with management
which  left timberworkers with some of the lowest wages and
worst employment  conditions in the country. In 1977 this
anger erupted with the growth  of a remarkable rank-and-file
movement aiming to oust the incumbent  leadership and bring
democracy to the union. Workers from six major sites in the
South Auckland region banded together to form the 
“Combined Council of Delegates” and began a series of
climaxing  in a full-scale strike which brought the timber
industry to a  standstill.
Wildcat is the story of this struggle and its bitter
aftermath as told  by the workers themselves: bushmen from
Kaingaroa, millhands from  Kawerau and Waipa, stacker
drivers from Kinleith – Maori and pakeha,  novices and
old-time union battlers

May Day Matters in conjunction with Darcy Lange: Study of an
Artist at  Work, a Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Exhibition,
at the Adam Art Gallery  24 March - 13 May 2007

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