It’s (not so) good to be the King

Hey! Ho!

It’s a Taranaki Triple Feature!

First up! A news article from the Taranaki Daily News:

Exposed! Heil Hawera: Past catches up with former neo-Nazi leader
17 June 2006

New Zealand’s most notorious neo-Nazi has turned up in Taranaki as der Fuhrer of a business lobby group.

Colin Ansell owns a house and printing business in Hawera. He has lived in the town for two years.

Mr Ansell, who has served time for torching an Auckland synagogue, is chairman of the local business association Progress Hawera. He was elected at the annual meeting nine months ago.

He had just been expelled from the newly formed promotion organisation Fast Forward Hawera, when fellow board members found out about his past.

However, he insists he renounced Nazism 25 years ago, and wants to get on with his life, be a member of the community, and develop his business.

“The people of Hawera have nothing to fear from me. When I was involved in the Nazi Party I was young and foolish,” he said.

As Colin King-Ansell, he once led the NZ National Socialist Party and stood for Parliament under its banner. He was jailed for 18 months for his role in an arson attack on an Auckland synagogue, was involved in the pro-skinhead group Unit 88, and has been convicted on a charge of publishing an anti-Jewish pamphlet.

Progress Hawera knew about Mr Ansell’s murky past when he was elected. A New Plymouth prison officer told an executive member about his record. The Taranaki Daily News understands that, as a result, Mr Ansell was gagged from making public statements. Colin Greaves was made official spokesman, and denied Mr Ansell was gagged.

Mr Ansell (59) was elected to the board of the embryonic Fast Forward Hawera at a meeting in May facilitated by the mayor, Mary Bourke. She had already been tipped off about Mr Ansell’s past and did not reveal this to the meeting.

She said: “I’d been told confidentially about his past. I wasn’t prepared to breach that. What could I do when I was chairing the meeting? When nominations were called for, I could hardly say: `Sorry, this guy is New Zealand’s original Nazi, do you really want him on the board?”‘

When board members later learned about Mr Ansell’s past, the South Taranaki District Council representative, community services manager Jan Martin, went to his business and requested his resignation, about three weeks ago.

Miss Bourke said: “As far as I can gather, the reason he was asked to resign from FFH is because everybody was talking about it, the wellbeing of the organisation was at stake, and they didn’t want the launch of FFH marred. Colin, to his credit, could see that and was prepared to stand down to allow the new entity the best chance of survival. I’m concerned the publicity now will look bad for the town.”

The town is buzzing with talk about Mr Ansell, because word soon spread among the business community and his name was searched for on the Internet. Also, a TV2 programme screened last week, on the history of the Nazi Party in New Zealand, which included archival footage of Colin King-Ansell. People recognised him as the man who now lives in Hawera.

Although he calls himself Ansell, legally he is King-Ansell. He said King was an old family name, used on his grandfather’s birth certificate. Mr Ansell is divorced with two adult daughters and has a partner.

He came to Hawera in April 2004 to buy a printing business which had been advertised in the Printers’ News. He has been a printer most of his working life and said he had customers all over the country. He said he had a lung disease and the South Taranaki air and flat terrain suited him better than Auckland.

“I have not come to hide out here. And I am not printing extremist propaganda here. The extreme political groups these days all have their own printing equipment,” he said.

Progress Hawera’s Mr Greaves said Mr Ansell had told him he had a past he was trying to put behind him and that he had been asked to resign from Fast Forward.

“I believe he has a dark background, but if you dig deep enough, you’d find most people in the country have something to hide from their past. I’m not really interested in his past. I accept him for who he is until he does something I don’t agree with. I judge him as he is. He served his 18 months and people do reform. I think he probably has.”

Real estate agent Selwyn Metcalfe said he helped Mr Ansell buy his house and business two years ago.

As the founding chairman of Fast Forward, he said: “Several of us were told individually about Colin’s Nazi past. It was discussed at a meeting, he was approached by a board member and asked to resign.

“I first heard of Ansell’s past about six to eight weeks ago and it was a shock to me, but I don’t judge people till I have the full facts. I went to see him and Colin made it known he’d been involved years ago in Nazism. He was quite frank and said he wanted to start a new life. When a prisoner gets out of jail you give them the opportunity to prove themselves.

“He just wanted to get away and make a new life, a new start. I have no problems with the guy at all.

“It was an awkward situation for me. I’m a firm believer in giving people a fair go. I believe he deserves another chance.”

But Mr Metcalfe said he didn’t know Mr Ansell had been jailed for burning a synagogue.

“It just shows that you don’t know people fully.”

Mr Ansell said Jan Martin had told him that his past associations were a concern for others on the committee. “She didn’t go into detail. I decided to resign because it was the decent thing to do, but I think it’s unfortunate that it happened. I still support FFH

because I think Hawera needs people with foresight and vision to get it moving again.

“Hawera has a brilliant future. I think I have something to offer.”

Asked why he had not revealed his past to either organisation before being elected, he said: “It was irrelevant. My political views and what parties I support are my business and I don’t ask other people that. I don’t support any parties, I don’t even vote. That all happened a long time ago and it’s no longer part of my life.”

He said he hadn’t resigned from Progress Hawera because he hadn’t been asked to. What he did at the next annual meeting in August would depend on whether the organisation decided to continue, merge with Fast Forward or go into recess.

Second Up! An interview with the scumbag in question from… the Taranaki Daily News! It might be worthwhile to note that King-Ansell has a go at whitewashing his past in this interview.

Hitler ‘stuffed up a damn good idea’
17 June 2006

Colin Ansell spoke frankly when interviewed at his cluttered, busy, printing shop:

When did you first become an admirer of Adolf Hitler?

Probably at secondary school. I’m a child of the 50s, we were force-fed war from the Allied viewpoint. I had an inquiring mind and wanted to know if the Nazis were so flaming evil, why? I’ve always asked questions about everything.

Yes, I read Mein Kampf. It didn’t make much sense to me. It was only when I delved into history that what Hitler wrote about started to make sense to me. I admired what Hitler tried to do but I I’m critical of what he did. He came up with a damn good idea and stuffed it up completely. Mussolini did the same in Italy.

I didn’t form the Nazi Party in New Zealand, it already existed. I think it was formed by a Mr Darnell. I sort of took it over. There had been a pre-war fascist movement in NZ and a lot of our early supporters were those people. It wasn’t a strong movement at its peak, it only had maybe 200 members. At that time we had the Cold War and communism was the big evil. I was very anti-communist.

Were you anti-Jewish?

Not really, I don’t think so.

Were you a white supremacist?

I believed in all the propaganda that was put out by overseas groups and, yes, we published it in our publications.

Did you believe in the master race?

No, I believe the European people were gifted to bring civilisation to the world, which we have done. We haven’t made a good job of it in some areas, but we have dragged a lot of countries kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

But to be a national socialist and to believe in Hitler, you must have supported those beliefs?

It’s hard to define. The way I saw national socialism is you had to do what you saw was best for your country. I believed in my interpretation of national socialism. I’m still a nationalist. This is my country and God help anybody who tries to take it off me. The party was a gathering point for all sorts of extremists.

But you were a leader and clear thinker?

Yes. I believed in my country. I’ve always believed NZ Europeans and Maori are the real New Zealanders. The movement believed the two signatories to the treaty must work together, although the treaty wasn’t a platform for the party.

In your speeches did you espouse white supremacy, or anti-Jewishness?

No. I pushed ideas and theories about how to get NZ moving again. It was stagnating. I knew we’d never get into power but we could push ideas forward for others to utilise.

But you advocated the formation of a group of stormtroopers?

Yes, we did, but it never came about. No one ever wore uniforms. It was about law and order, the coming of the black gangs. People thought it would never happen. But we all saw it coming.

When did you sever your links with Nazism?

The party ceased to exist about 1980. It just faded away. We got older. Once the Cold War was over it faded world wide. Other groups like the National Front came into existence. There was a brief attempt in the 90s to resurrect the party, but it never got anywhere.

It reared its head when I took a group of young kids under my wing and the media beat it up into white supremacy. The treasurer was part Maori and the newspaper editor was part Cook Islander. We took in these white kids, some of them referred by the police to us. They had nowhere for them. Whereas for Maori or islander kids, there were groups who would take them in.

It was called Unit 88. It stands for the 8th letter of the alphabet, which is H for Heil Hitler. I was involved but I didn’t run it. I gave them a place to stay, I had the lease on a big building; they had a gym, pool tables, they could bring their girlfriends, listen to their skinhead music. It was harmless, it wasn’t an attempt to mould young malleable minds and turn them into stormtroopers. That was a joke.

Since about 1980 I’ve had nothing more to do with national socialism except kept an eye on what’s going on. I’ve kept in touch with some of my older mates, the few who are left.

Have you formally renounced Nazism?

Yes, I have renounced it, although not formally. When the party ceased to exist I went into retirement. It was a gradual fading out. I concentrated on my business interests.

You haven’t borrowed money to buy a home and business in Hawera – where did that capital come from?

I won’t say where it came from but friends helped out, helped me establish. I’ve done many favours over the years, helped other printers. I have many friends in the printing business.

Did you do a jail term of 18 months?

Yes, when I was in my 20s. I was young and foolish then. I got 18 months for $10 worth of damage. The charge was arson to a synagogue. I didn’t actually do anything, I was just there. I just got caught up in it.

Do the people of South Taranaki have anything to fear from you living here?

Absolutely not. I’m not a threat to society any more. This Kyle Chapman in the Sunday Star Times last week and his Survivors’ Militia, he’s an absolute idiot. He’s the one who sort of took over from me and now someone else has taken over from him. They’ve all tried to get me to come back but I’m too old and too cynical.

I just want to live out what’s left of my life, I want to get on. I think I can make a good life here, it’s a nice town.

And, in Das Konklusion – An Opinion Piece from… The Taranaki Daily News:

No one is ever free of a past they might regret
17 June 2006

Colin Ansell, reformed Nazi, has been keeping good company this week, writes the Taranaki Daily News. He shares a span of headlines with Lisa Lewis and Heather Mills McCartney – all of whom prove that no one can ever be totally free of their past. Bikini-streaker Ms Lewis got a tad more exposure than she expected when she galloped through last Saturday’s All Blacks-Ireland test in a tiny two-piece: a former husband and a more recent lover revealed she, variously, owed them money, had breast implants, was an attention-seeker with expensive tastes and had worked as a stripper – none of which she counted on when she put the bikini up for a windfall auction on Trade Me. In comparison, the embarrassment of the freshly estranged wife of Sir Paul McCartney must be multiplied by about a million. She is accused of everything from being a porn-film actress and prostitute a couple of decades ago, to being responsible for the former Beatle’s aubergine hair dye.

Mr Ansell, however, adds a serious note to the raking of history. His past is infinitely more ugly, as New Zealand’s most notorious Nazi cheerleader and Holocaust denier. His involvement with, and leadership of, groups worshipping Adolf Hitler and white supremacist policies spanned more than 30 years from the late 1960s, and included a jail term for trying to burn down a Jewish synagogue and another conviction for inciting racial hatred. He gloried in offending both his targeted ethnic groups as well as the vast majority of normally eccentric-tolerant Kiwis – his two 1970s attempts to enter Parliament under the National Socialist Party banner drew barely more votes than could be mustered among friends and family. His pro-Nazi career culminated in the 1990s mentoring of a skinhead group calling itself Unit 88, which was so radical and aggressive that it eventually frightened Mr Ansell himself. He has apparently had no further active interest in the hateful and lunatic philosophies of racial purity – whatever that might be – since the late 1990s, and moved to Hawera and provincial anonymity two years ago.

The trouble is he chose not to keep a low profile, instead stepping forward in the local business scene and becoming chairman of the council-sponsored lobby group, Progress Hawera. Not everyone knew about his sordid past, and those who did – including Mayor Mary Bourke – felt constrained by some sense of etiquette and the curious national habit of giving a bloke a chance, be it second, third or fourth. It is to be hoped Mr Ansell appreciated the irony of being the recipient of such courtesies and fair play, given the sickening creed to which he adhered for much of his life – and against which 12,000 of his fellow New Zealanders died fighting, 17,000 suffered injuries and everyone else the grief of six years of privation and terror. His exposure through a recent TV programme should serve as a warning that criminal records and grossly anti-social behaviour might be forgiven, but are never entirely forgotten. Communities have the right to know who lives among them – and who purports to speak for them.

News brief · 17 June 2006