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Happy Birthday James K. Baxter

Media Release Monday June 26th 2006

Happy Birthday James K. Baxter

If New Zealand’s foremost poet James K. Baxter was still alive he would celebrate his 80th birthday next Thursday, June 29th. What a party that would have been!

Two of Baxter’s great loves were working with young people and exploring church teachings. In the decade before his death he attended many inter-church conferences which were in vogue at the time.

A friend in the National Council of Churches asked him to write down what he most wanted to see in young people today and after consideration, he wrote down a two page statement “Proposal for the Young People of New Zealand”. The six part statement spoke of the loneliness and social evils of society and proposed that young people support each other through varieties of communal living.

The document was reproduced and shared widely through youth groups in New Zealand at the time. A copy was given to Norman Kirk who was impressed by the possibility of establishing youth kibbutz-like communes. When he became Prime Minister one of his creative ideas was to give government financial support to the establishment of youth communes around the country (only one of which is still in existence in Whanganui).

The original two-page proposal, hand-written and signed by James K Baxter is to be auctioned this week on Trade Me the Internet auction site. The total amount of the successful bid will be donated to ECPAT New Zealand, a children’s rights charity working to protect abused young people.

ECPAT New Zealand is delighted that founder of the global ECPAT movement; Ron O’Grady discovered this treasure and has very generously agreed to auction this historic document to raise funds for ECPAT.


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