To Free the World – Harry Holland and the rise of the labour movement in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific

James Robb

$50.00

James Robb’s fresh, uncompromising biography features large excerpts from Holland’s own writings, on matters as diverse as industrial accidents, the poetry of Robert Burns, the White Australia policy and the Russian revolution. We rediscover this visionary socialist leader through his own stirring words.

Description

“He devoted his life to free the world from unhappiness, tyranny and oppression,” reads Harry Holland’s memorial in Wellington.

Militant unionist, socialist agitator, writer and organiser, Holland was a firebrand leader of workers — both in Australia, where he was jailed for sedition during the Broken Hill miners’ strike of 1909, and in Aotearoa New Zealand, from the time he arrived at the start of the Waihī Strike in 1912, to his death at the tangi of the Māori King in 1933.

Elected to Parliament in 1918 and Labour Party leader from 1919, Holland was the “compassionate champion of the common people.” He campaigned against military conscription and war, forged a political alliance with Māori, supported strikes by indentured labourers in Fiji, defended the Samoan Mau movement in its battles against the New Zealand colonial administration, and condemned the mass layoffs and wage-cutting during the Great Depression.

When Labour was elected to government in 1935, its new leader Michael Joseph Savage cabled Holland’s widow, Annie: “Harry’s life of service enabled us to win.”

James Robb’s fresh, uncompromising biography features large excerpts from Holland’s own writings, on matters as diverse as industrial accidents, the poetry of Robert Burns, the White Australia policy and the Russian revolution. We rediscover this visionary socialist leader through his own stirring words.

About the author

James Robb was born and raised in Wellington. In 1978 he graduated from Victoria University, and for several years worked in car assembly plants, meatworks and other factories, and wrote articles for the socialist press. More recently he was a high school teacher for fifteen years, living in Auckland with his wife and three children, and is now working in a metal recycling plant. James’s novel The Chain was published by Steele Roberts Aotearoa in 2012, and he writes regular posts for his blog A Worker at Large.