CAFCA recently requested and was given it's historical file from the Secret Intelligence Service. Whilst in Christchurch over the summer I was able to read this file from start to finish. What I found to be the most astonishing was the lack of anything that would warrant their on-going surveillance. The interest in the personal lives of those involved and disturbing and comments made about individuals behaviour in meetings or there personal views was predictable from such an organisation - but none the less irritating. It serves as a an example of the constant surveillance anyone will be under who questions government, capitalism or adheres to anything but the status quo. Apart from the obvious 'why on earth were they doing this' reaction I actually found the file fascinating as historical reading. It gave in places almost a day to day account of what activists were up to. Of particular interest to me was the numerous pages committed to the 1975 Resistance Ride, which saw activists congregate from around the country for a tour of the south island stopping off at points of interest and at small towns to talk to local people. I had heard accounts of the Resistance Ride before but it was helpful to read the newspaper articles that were generated at the time. So there we go - our SIS - glorified newspaper clippers.
Here is an article that appeared in the Christchurch Press on Wednesday 28th January regarding the CAFCA SIS file.
SIS reveals secret files
Article 28 Jan 2009
Martin van Beynen
The release of Security Intelligence Service (SIS) files on individuals has revealed for the first time
how far the shadowy service reached into the lives of activist and non-activist New Zealanders.
In response to the SIS relaxing its approach to redundant files, the word has got out.
A flood of files is reaching the people spied on, with most of the clandestine reporting referring to
legitimate protest and political activity.
In November, Murray Horton, a former railway worker, applied for the file on the Campaign Against
Foreign Control of Aotearoa (Cafca), an organisation he helped found.
He received 400 documents, including a cover letter from SIS head Dr Wayne Tucker. It said the
spying had stopped.
The file presented a ‘‘fascinating and disturbing pattern of systematic covert state surveillance of
many, many organisations and many hundreds, if not thousands, of people over decades’’, Horton said.
He had seen other files. One showed the SIS had started monitoring an activist when she was 10.
An SIS spokesman said the service had adopted an archives policy in 2003 to aid ‘‘the proactive
declassification of historical records’’.
‘‘A key element of the archives policy is that the SIS will deal impartially with information, regardless
of whether it reflects unfavourably on the service or shows the service in a good light,’’ he said.
‘‘Subsequent publicity has led to an increase in requests for access to personal information . . . The
service has made every endeavour to be forthcoming.’’
The greater openness had been well-received, with 26 people being sent their personal files last year.
‘‘Recipients of declassified SIS reports have generally viewed them in their historical context and
realised that the service’s methods and informationcollection priorities have altered over the years as the
nature and perceptions of threats to security have changed.’’
The identity of agents and sources of information was deleted from the files, the spokesman said.
So much for democracy, Horton said.
‘‘Our own little country has been proven to behave towards its dissidents in much the same way as
the Communist police states that it used to rail against,’’ he said.
The worst of it was that the Cafca file and others released indiscreet and personally damaging
material about named third parties who were not the subject of the surveillance but simply caught up in
its net, he said.
‘‘A lot of it is salacious gossip, with analyses of named people’s marriage problems, drinking habits,
etc, etc,’’ Horton said.
‘‘Some of it is laughable, like a report dedicated to the likely impact of feminism and different gender
views on abortion on the marriages of named couples.’’
One report contained this reference to Horton: ‘‘He likes the sound of his own voice and keeps
interrupting the other speakers.’’
Bill Rosenberg, 57, who is a member of Cafca, told the Press he had received his personal file, some
of the file kept on his late father, Canterbury University economist Wolfgang Rosenberg, a refugee from
Nazi Germany, and also the file on his mother.
The deputy director of the centre for teaching and learning at Canterbury University said he had
never been a member of a political party but had been in several anti-war protest groups since his youth.
His father’s file showed he had been followed when he went around the country giving talks to
groups. His mother was also monitored because of her membership of the New Zealand Communist
Party in her youth and her involvement in organisations such as the Housewives Union.
His father’s application for a professorship at Victoria University was noted, and he wondered if the
SIS had intervened to ensure it failed.
The files reflected the paranoia of the McCarthy era but also the particular views of SIS staff,
Rosenberg said. ‘‘The release of the files marks a significant change in that degree of paranoia and that
view of the world.’’
His file contained mainly comments about him by Socialist Unity Party and Communist Party
members at private meetings. Most disturbing was the car registration numbers taken when people
visited his house after he had returned from overseas.
The picture emerging from the files was a ‘‘huge mixture of time-serving stuff’’ and reports about
innocuous events, Rosenberg said.
The lack of sophistication was startling and little analysis was done on why activities were suspicious.
The vast majority of reporting was about ‘‘perfectly legitimate political activity by people who had a
different view to the status quo’’, Rosenberg said.
SIS dossiers detail dalliances, dances and very little drama
Article rank 28 Jan 2009
Organisations and individuals throughout the country are finding out whythey
attracted the attention of the Security Intelligence Service as files no longer
regarded as live are released. MARTINVANBEYNENblows the dust off two
Keeping files for the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) must have been a boring job. The file on the
Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (Cafca, formerly Cafcinz, the Campaign Against Foreign
Control in New Zealand) contains about 400 mostly mundane documents, and goes back to its earlier
incarnation in 1965.
It consists mainly of newspaper clippings, Cafca publications and newsletters, press releases and
internal SIS memorandums providing reports on Cafca’s annual meetings. It also contains briefings to
the prime minister on Cafca and notes that some material was passed on to the United States
Much of the information stems from the SIS’s District Office, Christchurch (DOC).
The SIS would not have needed to employ its full resources to garner the information. Most of it
would have been easily obtainable by subscription, and Cafca has always correctly assumed addresses
on its mailing list contained either post office boxes belonging to the SIS or the police Criminal
SIS reports of meetings always identify the attendees, as do reports on pickets and protests. Other
happenings at such protests are recorded, including anti-government statements.
A record of a demonstration in 1980 notes an individual calling the government a ‘‘ripoff’’ and saying
the ‘‘Marxist way of life’’ was better.
Finances are often mentioned as links with other organisations.
By the mid-1980s, the SIS had almost lost interest in Cafca, regarding it as of ‘‘minimal security
A covering letter accompanying the released file by current SIS director Dr Warren Tucker says the
service would have been less interested in the organisation after 1977 if it had not continued with
protests against US bases and naval visits and with protests to abolish the SIS.
The SIS’s interest appears to have peaked in a period between 1975 and 1978 when Cafca or its
predecessor was involved in protests against the visit of US navy secretary J. W. Middendorf, the
berthing of Russian trawler Yunost at Lyttelton and the Pacific Basin Economic Council meeting in
These followed the involvement of Cafca members in a protest and winning-hearts campaign called
the South Island Resistance Ride in 1975.
The Cafca file included a list of everyone on the ride, with their address and telephone number.
Preparations for the tour, such as ferry bookings, are documented.
The interest cranked up in 1976 when an attempt was made to sabotage a communications mast at
Weedons in Canterbury, and increased again in 1977 when seven .303 bullets were fired into an oil
tanker in protest against the visit of the US Union Oil chairman to the Pacific Basin meeting.
No evidence suggested any link with Cafca, but clearly it was strongly suspected, the file shows.
The prime minister was briefed on the organisation by then SIS director Paul Molineaux.
After skirmishes at the demonstration against the Pacific Basin meeting, the SIS notes on the file
appear to lament a ‘‘well-placed source’’ in Cafca who should have been able to ‘‘forewarn’’ the
Although the file suggests a degree of infiltration of Cafca by the SIS by 1978, it did not go to the
trouble of planting a mole.
The main reason for the SIS’s curiosity about Cafca was the organisation’s suspected links and
shared personnel with the New Zealand Communist Party (CP), its youth arm, the Progressive Youth
Movement (PYM), the Socialist Unity Party of New Zealand (SUP) and various offshoots.
From the Cafca file it is clear the SIS had a mole within the Christchurch branch of the CP and as
early as 1975 the party source is reporting how the party regards Cafca as a good testing and recruiting
ground for converts.
The SIS took a much closer interest in CP members, which involved intercepting mail.
In 1986, its source reports on a meeting at which the perilous finances of the Christchurch branch are
discussed and the need to persuade Marion Lesley Hobbs (who later became a Labour Cabinet minister)
to pledge $10.
CP cadres did not always do Cafca any favours. In 1980, B, attending a CP meeting, is reported to
boast when drunk that Cafca had been responsible for the Weedons aerial sabotage on directions from
the CP. Cafca stalwart Murray Horton says the organisation was not involved.
The SIS expresses, in one memo, its satisfaction at the Cafca protest against the Russian trawler
visit, suggesting the protest would create a rift between Cafca and the ‘‘People’s Union’’.
The Cafca file, with its broad compass, contrasts with the file on Christchurch unionist Paul Corliss,
formerly the secretary of the Harbour Workers Union and convener of the Council of Trade Unions in
Canterbury. He is now a part-time union organiser.
He first came to the attention of the SIS in 1974 through his association with Horton and another
Cafca stalwart, Brian Rooney.
He worked with Horton as distribution manager for the Canterbury University student newspaper
Canta, and both men later worked in the traffic branch of New Zealand Railways in Christchurch.
Both are noted in Corliss’s file as ‘‘troublemakers to railways management’’.
Suspicions Corliss might be a member of SUP (he was never a member of the grouping) are also
noted. Corliss’s file tracks his rise up the ranks of the trade union movement and starts with his involvement
in the South Island Resistance Ride, for which he was in charge of food.
In the end, he could not be bothered going, he says.
His file mentions his attendance at a protest in 1980 in Lyttelton against the sale of coal to Japan and
also his arrest in a protest against the Springboks rugby tour in 1981.It records his promotion to Canterbury secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen and his part in a protest against minister of railways George Gair.
It notes his appointment to the executive of the Council of Trade Unions and reports his attendance at a May Day social organised by the CP at the Trade Union Centre in Christchurch on May 2, 1986. The report notes the gathering was entertained by a blind man playing an accordion and a tin
Corliss is tracked attending a meeting of SUP in 1986 and in the same year is said not to have turned
up at a Committee for a Worker Front meeting where he was supposed to speak.The committee was trying to come up with a manifesto to provide an alternative to the Roger
His file then notes his invitation to a seminar by SUP and an advertisement giving notice of his
intention to speak at a series of public forums on ‘‘reconquering the Labour Party or a new workers’
Corliss, who has never been a member of a political party, says he is not overly perturbed at finding
– to his surprise – that he is the subject of an SIS file.
But he finds it bizarre he should ‘‘feature in some official secret source’’.
‘‘I mean, I wouldn’t feel like that if I had some guilt or something, but this is a bit odd,’’ he says. ‘‘All
I did was belong to legal organisations.’’
He was not a career railwayman, but ‘‘if I had been, it [the note about being a troublemaker] could
have been a major influence on my future’’.
‘‘It seems clear they were talking with senior management about me and Murray, and that would
have leaked like a sieve,’’ he says. ‘‘To say I was causing trouble was a sign I was doing my job as a representative. But there were thousands of union delegates around the country doing what democratic unions are allowed to do.’’