An­gel of city riot ‘staunch lady’

Maori war­den who helped re­store calm dur­ing ugly in­ci­dent was devoted to com­mu­nity, say friends

The Northern Advocate - - Nation - Martin John­ston

Awoman who was the face of calm on an ugly night in Auck­land’s his­tory has died. The night was the Queen St riot. The woman was Hine Grind­lay.

She is re­mem­bered by many as the cen­tral fig­ure in a Her­ald pho­to­graph of the riot, dressed in her Maori war­den uni­form, strid­ing res­o­lutely, hand-in-hand with young and old, Pakeha and Maori.

Grind­lay, who had lived for many years on Auck­land’s North Shore, died in North Shore Hos­pi­tal on Novem­ber 30, aged 74.

A mother and grand­mother, she was buried at an urupa near Cape Run­away in the east­ern Bay of Plenty, fol­low­ing a fu­neral at Kauae­tan­go­hia Marae.

Friends and as­so­ciates re­call a strong per­son­al­ity and her de­vo­tion to pub­lic ser­vice.

“She was an out­stand­ing woman,” said Wai­pareira Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive John Tami­here.

“She was one of those . . . souls that was just so in­vested in do­ing good things for the com­mu­nity.”

The riot

On Fri­day, De­cem­ber 7, 1984 — 34 years ago yesterday — Grind­lay dressed in her Maori war­den uni­form and went to help out at Thank God It’s Over! — a free concert at Auck­land’s Aotea Square.

Her son had per­suaded her to take him and other young peo­ple.

Dave Dob­byn’s D.D. Smash was the head­line act, with The Mock­ers and Herbs, in what was billed as a sum­mer cel­e­bra­tion of the end of the aca­demic year.

Even be­fore Dob­byn’s band went on stage, some in the crowd of 10,000 had st arted hurl­ing bot­tles at the po­lice. Some were ar­rested. More po­lice ar­rived — in riot gear.

Soon af­ter D.D. Smash took the st age the power went off. Dob­byn said, ac­cord­ing to a Min­istry of Cul­ture and Her­itage his­tory web­site: “I wish those riot squad guys would stop w*** i ng and put their l i ttle ba­tons away.” He was later ac­quit­ted on a charge of in­cit­ing the riot.

The bot­tle-throw­ing con­tin­ued and the po­lice or­dered the concert to stop at 8.10pm. D.D. Smash grabbed their gear and fled to their van.

The booze-fu­elled trou­ble spilled on to Queen St. Po­lice were called in from around the city and their num­ber swelled to 260.

The ri­ot­ers — about 100 in to­tal — would charge the po­lice, and the po­lice would charge back.

Grind­lay didn’t like to dwell on the riot, but in 2009 she told the Her­ald it wasn’t street kids or gang mem­bers who started the trou­ble; the young bot­tle-throw­ers were mainly well dressed and from mid­dle-class fam­i­lies.

Af­ter the ini­tial stam­pede, she took a l ost lit­tle boy, whom she had pro­tected, to the cen­tral po­lice st ation, then re­turned to Aotea Square, wor­ried about young moth­ers and their ba­bies.

She joined a chain of peo­ple try­ing to calm the vi­o­lence on Queen St out­side the Civic Theatre.

The young blond man in the photo said to her, “do you think we could do some­thing about this?” She replied, “Well, we can try.”

He took her hand and the old man said, “I’m com­ing too.”

“There was one guy that had a big 10-gal­lon drum there and he wanted to throw it over my head and I’m say­ing ‘no you don’t. Don’t do that, turn around and go home’.”

The man put the drum down, apol­o­gised and dis­ap­peared into the crowd.

But the im­promptu peace march, in front of a line of out­num­bered po­lice, couldn’t stop the ri­ot­ers, who smashed and looted their way down Queen St.

It was 10pm be­fore the po­lice wrested back control from the mob. Cars had been set alight, win­dows smashed, and shops wrecked. Dozens of peo­ple were in­jured. About 120 peo­ple were ar­rested. The in­sur­ance bill reached $2.8 mil­lion.

“At the time I was not scared. You got no time to be scared,” Grind­lay re­called on Maori Tele­vi­sion.

She was awarded the Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for her brav­ery in the riot, and the Auck­land City Coun­cil’s Good Cit­i­zen award.

Liquor con­trols were tight­ened af­ter a gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed in­quiry into the riot crit­i­cised the ready ac­cess peo­ple had to al­co­hol and the pres­ence of glass bot­tles.

The po­lice got more pro­tec­tive equip­ment and long ba­tons.

The Maori war­dens

Maori war­dens are guided by prin­ci­ples in­clud­ing peace, re­spect and sup­port. Grind­lay’s Maori war­den ser­vice, which con­tin­ued un­til not long be­fore her death, in­cluded sup­port­ing peo­ple at the North Shore Dis­trict Court.

“She was quite a staunch lady,” said Lyvia Mars­den, a friend of Grind­lay’s.

“She has done a lot of work in the com­mu­nity and as a Maori war­den ded­i­cated her­self to the well­ness of Maori,” said Mars­den, who leads a sub­sidiary of health and so­cial ser­vices or­gan­i­sa­tion Te Puna Hauora O Te Raki Pae­whenua.

Grind­lay was a Te Puna board mem­ber for more than 20 years.

She also stood as a New Zealand First can­di­date in North Shore at the 1999 elec­tion.

“She cer­tainly was an ac­tive [party] mem­ber,” said for­mer NZ First MP Pita Paraone.

“She used to travel to Wai­tangi to as­sist the lo­cal war­dens . . . in try­ing to make Wai­tangi Day a peace­ful day.

“She cer­tainly had a com­mit­ment to the well­be­ing and wel­fare of her com­mu­nity.”


Hine Grind­lay was awarded a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for her brav­ery dur­ing the Queen St riot and re­mained a Ma¯ori war­den un­til shortly be­fore her death.

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