The 1951 waterfront dispute was an epoch in New Zealand history. It lasted 151 days, and 22,000 New Zealanders were affected by the lockouts and associated strikes.
Not only was it a struggle between the left and the right, between various forces within the union movement, but also it was a struggle that raised serious questions about the importance of civil liberties in a democracy during times of internal conflict.
A new album, Trouble on the Waterfront, explores some of the events, the attitudes, and the personal perspectives of that time through the medium of contemporary song.
Chris Prowse is pleased to present Trouble on the Waterfront, an album of musical snapshots of the 1951 Waterfront Dispute, featuring some of this country’s finest musicians and spoken word contributions from well known radio voices.
Trouble on the Waterfront will be launched at a FREE public event at 2pm Sunday October 25 (Labour Weekend) at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, including performances from The Waterfront Collective band and historical perspectives of the time from noted historian and author David Grant.
Chris said the album is a collaboration of New Zealand singers, musicians and well known broadcasters who have come together like actors in a film to play their own part in telling this story.
It started with a photo I happened upon on the website nzhistory.net.nz, which inspired me to delve into the history of the 1951 Waterfront Dispute," he said. "I was most fascinated with the way the media was manipulated and how civil liberties were restricted by the government.
"The government said the nation was ‘at war’, which meant people couldn’t give assistance to families of the wharfies without fear of breaking the law. These ideas form the foundation of these of songs, which tap into the personal experiences of those involved and affected by the trouble."
Chris has a long history of performing in Wellington, starting in coffee bars like the Chez Paree and The Matterhorn, and has performed with many leading Wellington musicians including Marg Layton, BillLake and lately with his daughter Eva Prowse (recently featured in the latest Fly My Pretties).
Apart from his music, Chris is a board member of The New Zealand Film Production Fund, a director of Red Rocks Records, chairman of the Hannah Playhouse Trust Board, and is a part-time tutor for the Bachelor of Performing Arts Management degree at Toi Whakaari / New ZealandDramaSchool.
Trouble on the Waterfront is a collaboration of some leading New Zealand singers and musicians including Bill Hickman (The Shot Band), Eva Prowse and Tessa Rain (Fly My Pretties), Andrew Delahunty (The Windy City Strugglers), songwriter and performer Arthur Baysting, and Darren Mathiassen (Hollie Smith and Rhombus).
In addition, the album features well-known radio broadcasters Sharon Crosbie and Tom Frewen, who added their voices to the track Media Watch.