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Salient. Te Ao-Marama. Vol. 37, No. 7. September 11, 1974

The Brawl

The Brawl

The property investors left the meeting to be greeted with a massed chant of "parasites!" from about 100 demonstrators cordoned off by police outside. When nearly everyone had left the ballroom, the police shut the doors, turned out the lights and made some pretense of leaving.

Cartoon of Robert Muldoon

However this exercise was defeated by the arrival of Muldoon's car. The "official party" appeared at the doors. Fighting began when a large and prominent Wellington landlord started trying to throw demonstrators around.

Muldoon emerged into a violently confused scene of kicking, punching, shoving, fireworks and flour bombs. According to the next morning's NZ Herald (August 26), "police took him by the arms and appeared to be steering him towards his car when a flour bomb struck him on the back. Mr Muldoon veered around the back of his car and ran toward some of the protestors, flailing punches as he did so. Some punches appeared to land, and one youth fell to the ground."

In making this heroic display Muldoon could rely on the police to arrest any demonstrators who might defend themselves against his assault. In fact seven men and one woman were arrested while the Leader of the Opposition and the trigger-happy Wellington landlord went scot-free. These eight were all charged with obscene language or disorderly behaviour except for one who allegedly managed to assault a constable with a broken hand received a week earlier. One man was picked up for swearing at a policeman who was thumping two young girls.

The Police Commissioner, Sir Angus Sharp, is apparently worried that Muldoon, through his bragging after the event, incriminated himself, (Sunday News 1/9/74). However, Sharp's own constables in Auckland saw Muldoon break away from their escort and commit an assault. They did nothing then and they would not listen to talk of charges afterwards. Their job is to protect the rich and powerful, not to enforce justice.

Muldoon, that man of genius, prides himself on his realistic "solutions" for violence in the cities. Yet how much chance would a young man picked up by the Auckland Task Force have in court if he said: "I'm all right, but I saw the face of one of (them) in front of me and I just hit it", (Muldoon's own words, NZ Herald 26/8/74).

Poster for a performance of 'Gallipoli' at Amamus Theatre