Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Obituary: Rex Chell Holliss, August 26th 1926-March 3rd 2000

Published: Alliance, No. 38, December 2000
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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Rex Holliss played an important role in defending Marxism-Leninism in the complex years after 1991 when the Communist Party of New Zealand leadership dropped its allegiance to Marxism and adopted Trotskyism. He showed particular interest in the activities of the International Committee for the Restoration of the Soviet Union, particularly the International Seminar ’Stalin Today’, held in Moscow in 1994. His death is a blow to the communist movement in New Zealand and internationally. The following account of his life by his wife is reprinted from ’Alliance’ No. 38, December, 2000:

Rex was born in Christchurch and attended school and university there. He studied theology for a short time before the authorities decided he was an unsuitable candidate! He then studied journalism and his experiences as a working journalist had a profound effect on his thinking and outlook. He became disillusioned and disgusted with the capitalist press, largely due to his observations and experiences during the 1951 waterfront lockout. He became interested in class conflicts, and joined the Communist Party in Christchurch in the early 1950s and became an enthusiastic student of Marxism-Leninism, convinced of its logic, practical significance and relevance for New Zealand (NZ) working people. He gained further experience of life as a crane driver and car assembly worker.

He was invited to work for the ’People’s Voice’ (PV) newspaper (organ of the CPNZ) and over the years assumed increasing responsibilities both in the leadership of the party and the editorial work of the PV. He visited the Soviet Union, China, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and in recent years Albania. As a result of his visit to Vietnam in 1965 he wrote a booklet entitled ’Vietnam Eyewitness’ – this booklet reflects his humanity, his love of people, his concern for the suffering of the Vietnamese people and his admiration for their heroism and above all his scathing indignation of the barbarism of US imperialism. He toured NZ for many months assisting in the building of the local movement against NZ participation in this filthy war.

Rex was active in many fields as well as the CPNZ – the local ratepayers association, anti-Vietnam, and anti-nuclear and anti-apartheid struggles and thus expressed his outlook of serving the people as the makers of history. In 1991 Rex’s long association with the CP ended when it was hijacked by a neo-Trotskyist group who turned their backs on Marxism-Leninism. He was instrumental in the formation of the Marxist-Leninist Collective for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of New Zealand.

Despite health problems he mastered modern technology and kept abreast of international developments through the Internet and was very disappointed when his disabilities ended his participation in the international discussions on Marxism-Leninism. He had a ready wit and sense of humour and set an example by striving to study problems in depth and from all sides to find correct solutions and avoid errors. While he had great respect for people he always defended his principles and beliefs. For most of his adult life he worked selflessly in the interests of the working class and their revolutionary party.