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We go inside to find out what happens in ‘anarchist house’

May 19th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Article, Front Page Layout

THE PUBLIC knows it as “the anarchist house,” but the community centre at 128 Abel Smith Street offers support to a wide range of radical causes.

The 128 Abel Smith St community centre, pictured, featured in a documentary called Operation Eight which premiered on April 17 at The Paramount.

Made by the CutCutCut collective over four years, the film examines police terror raids of 2007 and the subsequent legal battle which resumes in the High Court at Auckland this month.

The documentary’s title comes from the codename given to the series of raids by police.

The centre was raided at dawn on Monday 15 October, 2007 as part of Operation Eight.

A clip of police breaking through a side door of the building was broadcast on TV3 shortly afterwards.

The house at 128 has since offered support to people affected by Operation Eight, including members of the Tuhoe tribe and prominent activist Valerie Morse.

“In the last five years the house has solidified its aims around being much more of a political space,” says Ms Morse.

The site housed a music school, a maternity hospital, and Wellington’s Lebanese Society before emerging as a hub for radical political activists.

“Anarchism is a personal and political philosophy based on the premise that no person has the right to have authority over another,” says a pamphlet by the door.

Ms Morse says 128 is a radical community centre which is, at its heart, about alternative ways of existing in the world.

The house is run by a collective of about 10 volunteers, none of whom wanted to use their full names.

They meet monthly to put forward new ideas and discuss any problems which may have arisen, says caretaker Nick, who requested his last name not be used.

The meetings are informal, and usually involve a shared vegetarian dinner cooked in the house’s kitchen.

The community centre offers a range of free, volunteer-run services to casual visitors.

These include: Revolting Books, an anarchist library run by the Black Cardigan Collective; Mechanical Tempest, a bike workshop with parts and tutorials available; the Marginalised Genders Room, a meeting space for women and transgender visitors; an office with internet, printers, stationery and extensive art supplies; and a seed bank.

There are also a number of occasional events held on the premises, such as stencilling lessons with Laura Drew, screen-printing workshops, and the Rusty Tongue performance cafe.

The running of 128 Abel Smith St is maintained by official caretakers who may live in the building for up to two years.

Currently in residence as caretakers are Zaou, Nick and Sebi, who requested their last names not be used.

They keep the space tidy, cook meals, work on personal projects, look after cat Michel and answer the doorbell with information and assistance to all visitors.

Michel lives independently and free of ownership at the centre, and has been in residence longer than any other collective member.

His vet visits and flea treatments are tracked on a whiteboard in the kitchen, next to a number of art projects based on him. spent time capturing daily life inside 128 Abel Smith St in this slide show. Due to political sensitivity about the house, those pictured requested their names not be used.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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  1. Well written story Sarah.

  2. Great article Sarah : )

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