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?