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Communist Party of New Zealand records.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-A-9

Scope and Contents

The papers which make up the core of this collection were donated to The University of Auckland by Wilfred (Bill) McAra a prominent member of Communist Party of New Zealand (CPNZ) on behalf of the ESPAL Society. The papers document the activities of the CPNZ from the 1920s until the early 1970s at both the national and local level. The collection includes papers relating to National and District Conferences, general and local body election campaigns, Communist Party study courses, the production of the People’s voice and other CPNZ publications, files of clippings and research materials and a set of original cartoons produced for the People’s voice by Frank Dromgoole.

ESPAL is an acronym for the Economic Social Political and Literary Society. This society was registered in June 1964 by Bill McAra, his partner Diana Wilsie and other members of the CPNZ as an independent organisation, partly in response to the Communist Party losing out on a number of bequests from supporters. It was felt a donation to the ESPAL society would be less likely to be contested than a bequest to the Communist Party of New Zealand (MSS & Archives 89/25, item 2/25). It was to the ESPAL society that McAra transferred the ownership of his Hayden Street House in 1965 as part of the process of gifting the property to the CPNZ.

The donation of records to the University by McAra either personally on behalf of the ESPAL society was also one of the accusations of big shotism brought against McAra by other members of CPNZ in the early 1970s. McAra was accused of setting up a bureau consisting of himself and Wilsie, presumably this means the ESPAL society, without the knowledge of the Party and dispersing Party documents to various institutions and individuals outside the Party (MSS & Archives 89/25, item 2/15). McAra defending himself describes the disputed archives as follows: The so-called Archives are confined to a number (approximately a dozen) packages of papers. They were packed in black cellophane and put under seal in Auckland University for periods of 20 and 30 years. They include a very large part of my personal writings. Many had already been published. There are also some Party documents and some minutes. The University authorities are not aware of the contents of these packages. Sealed inside each is a list of contents. The only other copies of lists were in a file I handed to BH. (MSS & Archives 89/25, item 2/15 - BH is Beth Hollis).


  • 1924 - 1972


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted


3.5 metres (31 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Wilfred McAra on behalf of the E.S.P.A.L. Society, 1969

Related Materials

The University of Auckland holds a number of other collections which contain the papers of Wilfred McAra these include:

MSS & Archives A-139: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers, 1913 - 1970.

MSS & Archives 94/4: Wilfred (Bill) McAra, papers 1929 – 1988.

MSS & Archives 89/25: Wilfred (Bill) McAra and Diana Wilsie papers, 1965 – 1977.

MSS & Archives D-5: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to industrial relations on the New Zealand waterfront, 1946 – 1953.

MSS & Archives D-6: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to the New Zealand Building and Allied Trades Federation, 1939 – 1945.

MSS & Archives D-10: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to the Building Investigations Committee of the Wellington branch of the Carpenters Union, 1937 – 1947.

Inventory of the records of the Communist Party of New Zealand, 1924 - 1972.
Frank Rogers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand