UK Keskidee tour helped fire up NZ indigenous ats   13 Apr 2011

On 7 April 2011, the pioneering Keskidee Centre, Britain’s first arts and cultural centre for the black
community, received a green plaque from the London Borough of Islington to recognise its
contribution to the city’s culture and history. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world a group of
‘kiwis’ remember the watershed time in the late 1970s when traditional barriers were collapsed to
bring the centre’s group of performers, The Keskidee, to New Zealand.

This was a time of worldwide revolution as indigenous and displaced peoples reclaimed identities. For
one man, born in New Zealand of Irish stock, it became a personal mission to bring together the
predominantly Jamaican and African performers of The Keskidee with Maori groups from activists to
gang members.

Denis O’Reilly, a social worker based at the small settlement of Waiohiki on the East Coast of New
Zealand, travelled in 1977 to the UK by way of Jamaica with the help of a Commonwealth Secretariat
scholarship to study the assimilation of transplanted peoples.

In London he met The Keskidee and the impact it had on him firmed his resolve to do whatever it took
to tour Keskidee through New Zealand.

“The Keskidee project was right in the middle of a rising sense of black consciousness.” Denis
O’Reilly explains.

In New Zealand the pocket of people responsible for bringing the Keskidee across the world to share
their dance, poetry, song and theatre called themselves Keskidee Aroha (meaning love).

Denis O’Reilly: “I believe the Keskidee Aroha project provided a useful cultural dynamic at a crucial
time. It helped many people take their anger and frustration and turn it from violent and destructive
outrage into change fostering political theatre.”

The costs were high and it took personal drive, lots of help and financial assistance from groups such
as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, as well as the personal support of New Zealand
Prime Minister Rob Muldoon, to make the tour happen. But this clash of cultures had a personal and
lasting influence on all concerned. The Keskidee tour of New Zealand lit a fire under indigenous
theatre and contemporary music and is celebrated by the likes of musician Tigilau Ness and his son
Che Fu. The tour was captured in film by the late Merita Mita and Martyn Sanderson.

This month the Keskidee is honoured for its contribution to the fabric of London but the impact of the
group, the place and the movement are felt as richly on the other side of the world

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

News

Hilary Timmins' Award-Winning UK Documentary Series To Inspire NZ Students

29 Jun 2020 Education
Dream Catchers, produced and directed by Hilary Timmins, celebrates the success stories of more than thirty inspirational New... more

New Zealand reaffirms support for Flight MH17 judicial process

7 Mar 2020 News By Rt HON WINSTON PETERS
Ahead of the start of the criminal trial in the Netherlands on 9 March, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has reaffirmed the need to... more

Business

NZ Government's Economic package to fight COVID-19

17 Mar 2020 Business News By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The Coalition Government has launched the most significant peace-time economic plan in modern New Zealand history to cushion the... more

NZ Government announces aviation relief package

19 Mar 2020 Business News By Hon Phil Twyford
Transport Minister Phil Twyford today outlined the first tranche of the $600 million aviation sector relief package announced earlier... more

Living

Northbound and Down: the London-based NZer who journeyed from Alaska to Mexico by bicycle

18 Aug 2020 Lifestyle
An exiled Kiwi has been hailed as inspirational for completing a remarkable American cycling adventure.   Auckland-born Otto... more

The Serious Road Trip: how one Kiwi woman’s Big OE took her into a war zone

18 Jun 2020 Review By Charlotte Everett
I was delighted to receive in the post a new book to review. Simone van Kan’s The Serious Road Trip was a decent-sized... more

Property

Fairer rules for tenants and landlords

17 Nov 2019 Property By Minister Kris Faafoi
17 NOVEMBER 2019 The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer... more

New Zealand Government will not implement a Capital Gains Tax

17 Apr 2019 Property By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The Coalition Government will not proceed with the Tax Working Group’s recommendation for a capital gains tax, Jacinda Ardern... more

Migration

Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued

19 Nov 2019 Migration By Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
19 NOVEMBER 2019 We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to... more

Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

18 Aug 2018 Migration
18 AUGUST 2018 HON IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY The announcement that Christchurch can once again be a settlement location for refugees... more

Travel

Gallipoli Anzac Day services cancelled

19 Mar 2020 Travel & Tourism By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The New Zealand and Australian Governments have announced this year’s joint Anzac Day services at Gallipoli will be cancelled... more

New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas

19 Mar 2020 Travel & Tourism
New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas more

Sport

The Skipper's Diary: Sir Richard Hadlee honouring his father and NZ's Forty-Niners

27 Oct 2019 Cricket By Charlotte Everett
NZNewsUK London Editor Charlotte Everett spoke to Sir Richard Hadlee about why he’s chosen to publish his father’s... more

PREVIEW: All Blacks v England semi-final

26 Oct 2019 Rugby
The two most convincing quarterfinals winners are set to square off in a semifinal showdown for the ages when the All Blacks meet old... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome Well um.. on the bright side, there (probably)... more

Kiwi Success

Congratulations to Loder Cup winner

26 Sep 2018 People By Hon Eugenie Sage
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 The Loder Cup, one of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, has been awarded to Robert McGowan for 2018... more

Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO

16 Aug 2018 Appointments
16 AUGUST 2018Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO HON JENNY SALESA Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa is... more

Recruitment

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

14 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

22 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more