Sue’s Truth: Jumping Sundays to be celebrated – all welcome

My regular column in the Truth Weekender this week recalls the liberation of Albert Park and the Jumping Sundays that followed its liberation, and looks forward to the 40th Anniversary event on September 19:

Anyone remember Jumping Sundays in Albert Park?

Forty years ago, several thousand young people – including Truth contributors Tim Shadbolt and myself – liberated the Park, creating what we felt to be a free space for the citizens of Auckland.

Up until September 1969 Albert Park was reserved for Council-approved activity, such as quiet family picnics or the odd performance by a brass band. Political activities were banned.

Those of us heavily involved in frequent demonstrations against the Vietnam War grew increasingly frustrated by the fact that this beautiful open space was just sitting there while council bylaws prohibited us from using it.

So one Sunday we organised a different kind of demonstration, especially designed to ‘take’ the park.

We marched down from Myers Park, and without any particular fuss or bother established a beach head at the band rotunda.

We were surprised how easy it was – a lot easier than trying to stop New Zealand from supporting the US efforts in Vietnam.

From that day on we made Albert Park our own every Sunday afternoon, with music and dancing, political speeches and rallies.

In a highly ironic twist, the Auckland City Council is this year supporting the 40th anniversary of the liberation of Albert Park as part of its Heritage Festival.

At 1.00pm Saturday 19 September there will be a launch of a display at the Auckland Central Library, including archival material and old film footage.

From 1.00 – 4.00pm on Sunday 20 September there will be a ‘Jumping Sunday 09’ free concert in the park.

Entertainers will include the Frank E.Evans band, who used to play for us way back then; Graham Brazier from ‘Hello Sailor’; Starfish Magic; Tigi Ness from ‘Unity Pacific’, and special street theatre. Tim Shadbolt and I will both be speaking.

I hope any of you who were part of our scene back then will be able to join us, along with others who might be interested in taking part in a celebration of this slice of Auckland’s social and political history.

While on the surface of it liberating a park in central Auckland may not seem particularly earth shattering, at the time it was highly symbolic of some of the seismic shifts that were taking place in New Zealand society.

We were a new generation who didn’t want to be dictated to by old fogies in either City Councils or Parliament.

We wanted to change the world and have fun while we were doing it. We didn’t accept that a city council could stop us dancing and singing in the park, or holding political rallies there.

So we took over, and the weekly Jumping Sundays which went on for years afterwards became a focal point for political movements as well as a space where the ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’ of our generation could be freely enjoyed, albeit with a wary eye out for police, in and out of uniform.

See you there?

22 thoughts on “Sue’s Truth: Jumping Sundays to be celebrated – all welcome

  1. You know its strange. I was there and I don’t remember there being a deliberate plan to liberate Albert Park. What I do remember is lots of people gathered in Myers Park, which was very small and somewhat steep, suddenly and spontaneously setting off down Queen St, dancing, singing and generally having a bloody good time. As we got down near Victoria St, the Police, then and still the last bastion of extreme conservatism in NZ, appeared in the distance ahead of us, starting to block our path. Somebody near the front shouted “Albert Park”, a sharp turn right was made and Albert Park was stormed. I can still see the bewildered faces on the cops when they arrived in Albert Park to find all the hippies (Yeah, I still cling to the hippie values of peace and love), doing subversive stuff like enjoying themselves in a public park. Shock, horror!!! It wasn’t until the deed was done that Shadbolt and the politicos (the Progressive Youth Movement, the Socialist Unity Party and even the born again Christians) started claiming the event, whereas all that had happened was that hundreds of people wanted a bit more space and didn’t want the cops ruining a perfectly enjoyable afternoon. Or have I got the whole thing wrong?

  2. Just around the corner and one house in.
    Poor Phil – doesn’t know that half of Karori have Bill’s wife’s address and phone number in case of a medical emergency – and yes, I do live just round the corner.

  3. True, and here we have examples of many who have been so invaded. Do you think it can be cured by the National health system?

  4. Sorry – mistyped.
    erase the last para from your mind – it was a quote I was going to work on.

    Instead I will just say that the arbiter of silly is stupid!! Either the laws, all of them, of any legitimate government, are there to be obeyed or they are not. We either have the rule of law or anarchy. You can’t decry someone for something you disagree with, then claim that you doing the same thing is justified by the relevant laws being silly.

  5. I’m afraid I can’t agree there Toad.

    You see, the comment that “Albert Park is land that belongs to the public of New Zealand” is a little silly. If it belongs to us all, then it belongs equally to me as to you, so I can build a house there and so can you! However, you will use the laws of the land to stop me, especially the bylaw that establishes the land for designated uses – with the elected council as those able to designate. However, the enforcers of that bylaw are Auckland City Council, which is the p[romulgator of at least one “silly rule”, so why should I take any notice of what they say?

    The ELECTED council ruled “in the 1960s that prevented the public from actually using it for legitimate recreational and political purposes.

  6. The Voice of Reason had the best comment on Key’s inflammation:

    “I wonder if the Dipton Volunteer Fire Brigade are on standby?”

    If you know what I mean.

  7. Phil – loved your ‘Mallard the chimp’ comment elsewhere (harsh!)
    and your list of likely arsonists! (You’re on fire!)

  8. Dave – by crikey, you’re on to something! Albert Park is equivalent to the North American continent and the invasion of the park by the likes of Shadbolt does mirror closely the severe and permanent changes that occured in that somewhat larger venue.
    I’d never considered that before!!!
    I do hope that not too many thousands of the indigenous Albert Parkians were slaughtered as a result of the occupation by Shadbolt, Bradford and the other perpetrators (and that the physical environment of the park hasn’t been ruined likewise).

  9. Dave S, the comparison is ridiculous. The US have no claim of ownership over Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Albert Park is land that belongs to the public of New Zealand. It was just that Auckland City Council had a silly rule in the 1960s that prevented the public from actually using it for legitimate recreational and political purposes.

  10. So let me see if I’ve got this right.

    You, and others, invaded space that was legally not yours to occupy, and “liberated” that space for political purposes and use.

    Did I get that right?

    If I did, can you explain why there are so many comments here regarding how terrible it is that someone else did exactly the same thing – except on a larger scale? The fact that the ‘invader’ is the USA, the ‘space’ is a country and the ‘political use’ is conversion of the country to western idealism and democracy doesn’t change the fact that the actions are the same!

    Yes, I know that you will claim that your purpose and intent was good but theirs is bad, but heck, good and bad is simply a matter of opinion. Just look at what the Roman Church has done over the centuries and you will see that lesson everywhere. Indeed, the fact that followers of Islam are now using force to attempt to convert the infidels, and “protect” their fellow believers, is an exact copy of the inquisition – heralded at the time as Christianity’s greatest hour.

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