In 1951 a modernist, black and white house is built at 22 Ascot Terrace in Wellington. Meanwhile, in post-war New Zealand there’s a stark division between left and right. It’s hard to fully comprehend the paranoia of the time against Communism and the Soviets.
In this episode we hear the story of an innocent social club—a vegetable co-op—that comes to be spied on by the Special Branch of the New Zealand Police, and of two talented young diplomats, including the owner of The Magpie House Richard Collins, whose careers and reputations would be damaged as a result.
Who was the spy? And what was it like to live under a cloud of suspicion in a city as small as Wellington? Seventy years later, the ‘children of the Vegetable Club’ tell their parents’ stories.
“We had a spy living with us when I was a student. I knew he was a spy when I came home one day and found that he’d taken the telephone apart and he didn’t seem to know how to put it back together.”
“They were told they’d never get a posting again … They were the victims, they were the eviscerated bodies hung out to dry and that was because they were diplomats and were involved in policy and foreign policy and things like that.”
The series is expertly created and hosted by Kirsten Johnstone who is a music journalist and former producer and broadcaster for RNZ.
Episode 2 link: https://news.sounz.org.nz/the-magpie-house-002/
The Magpie House series link: https://news.sounz.org.nz/the-magpie-house/
Episode 1: Landfall in Unknown Seas Release date — 22 November
Episode 2: The Vegetable Club Release date — 29 November
Episode 3: Release date — 6 December
Episode 4: Release date — 13 December
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