Notes from our past: 1934 to 1943

  • AWEA strengthened its emphasis on education for social change and relationships with workers / unions under the leadership of Norman Richmond.
  • In 1943 in response to the government’s intention to forcibly destroy the Ngāti Whatua settlement at Ohaku Bay, AWEA members, along with many unionists, participated in a massive working bee in which a palisade was constructed around the village.
  • The organisation was severely criticised for expression of radical views and there were related arguments with the university over academic freedom. ‘So bitter was the feeling at the time that any critical or ‘inconvenient’ thinking among individuals was quickly labelled as ‘red’ and seized upon by the opponents of the W.E.A. as evidence to support their pre-conception that it was a subversive organization.’ A.B.Thompson.
  • The new Prime Minister, Michael Savage, had been associated with Auckland WEA as both a student and a office holder.  Both, Peter Fraser, who took up the Education portfolio, and Walter Nash, the Minister of Finance had been students in WEA classes. Ironically WEA was claimed an anachronism by the Labour government which believed it had delivered an era of equality.
  • The 13th AWEA Summer School held in 1939-1940 was its most successful to date.
Notes Our Past 1934 1943 Collage