New take on historic strike

By Fritha Tagg

An account from the policeman's perspective of the end of the Waihi miners' strike is the subject of a book launched on Monday at Wellington Police Museum.

David Walker, grandson of Constable Gerald Wade, the policeman injured in the 1912 Waihi miners' strike on Black Tuesday, November 12, remembers his grandfather as a patient man. A big gentleman who loved fishing and the beach.

He was well-loved by his family and friends and well-respected in his community.

"He made us toys and taught me how to tie fishing knots, how to catch fish," said Mr Walker.

Gerald Wade came from a large family six boys and six girls and he cared for his wife, who suffered with arthritis.

David says in his grandfather's early days he broke in horses for carriagework before joining the New Zealand Police Force.

After he recovered from his injury sustained during the Waihi miners' strike he returned to duties with the police in Wellington and Nelson before returning to his life on the farm.

Earlier this year David Walker started on a project - to write a book about his grandfather's role in the Waihi miners' strike.

"The book is tightly focused. Not a rewrite of strike, not an anti-Evans. It is an attempt to get some fairness and balance."

"I'm the last person on earth who has seen the bullet hole in my grandfather's stomach. He died in 1964."

Mr Walker has been disappointed when he hears people say his grandfather wasn't shot.

"I had to say this, I'm not a big-time historian or anything. But I am his grandson."

Mr Walker says there have always been issues around Black Tuesday, which were well-known by people of the time.

He believes public knowledge has evaporated and the strike story has endured for much longer than it should have.

"It's become an accepted historical truth. But when they are talking about the death of Evans and the wounding of my grandfather it goes into spin, and people believe the spin and not the reality."

Mr Walker has taken "tiny pieces from everywhere, comments made by other relatives" and tried to make more sense of them.

"I am not trying to put my grandfather on a pedestal but I knew the man, and his family. But more than anything else I want to create something on behalf of his descendants, which is fair. Most of what is reported is propaganda spin.

"I am offering an alternate view and I have explained why."

David dedicated the book to his grandfather and to "the people of Waihi, working to preserve their town's heritage who have always known there were links missing".

- Bay of Plenty Times

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