Rabble Rousers and Merry Pranksters: A History of Anarchism in Aotearoa/New Zealand from the mid-1950s to the early 1980s

By Toby Boraman

The 1960s have been dismissed as a joke, a time when naive young people  believed they could change society by wearing beads and placing owers in their hair. This is a myth. The 1960s and – to perhaps a greater extent – the 1970s were characterised by a widespread political revolt. Social control – such as war, patriarchy, racism, sex roles, the police, schools, the work ethic, union  bureaucracies and political parties – and authoritarian values in general came under attack during these decades. In particular, the late sixties and early seventies were a time of an often exhilarating freedom and creativity when many people tried to roll back authority and create a world that was more co-operative and less hierarchical. This effervescent rebellion shattered the myth that Aotearoa/New Zealand was an ethnically harmonious egalitarian utopia. It ultimately failed to transform capitalism in a fundamental manner, but it did have considerable impact. From the early to mid-1970s, watered down leftist and anti-authoritarian values permeated throughout society.


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