15 Apr 2020

Playwright Dean Parker dies

1:07 pm on 15 April 2020

Dean Parker, a New Zealand screenwriter, playwright, journalist and political commentator, has died.

Dean Parker

Dean Parker Photo: Philip Merry

His death on Tuesday 14 April was announced by Murray Lynch, director of Playmarket, the playwright's agent.

Parker plays included Midnight in Moscow, Baghdad, Baby, and an adaptation of Nicky Hager's expose The Hollow Men.

He won awards in New Zealand for his tele-play Share the Dream and for co-writing Came a Hot Friday adapted from the novel by Ronald Hugh Morrieson.

Parker's theatre work included The Feds, Two Fingers From Frank Zappa, and adaptations of Great Expectations, and The Trial.

Television work included the Welsh-Kiwi rugby tale Old Scores.

In 1990 Parker co-directed Shattered Dreams, a documentary on the years leading up to the 1951 waterfront strike.

Parker was born in Napier in 1947 and moved to London in the 1960s where he became immersed in left wing politics.

Returning to New Zealand in the 1970s, Parker joined the pro-Soviet Socialist Unity Party and became chairman of its Auckland City Branch. He was active in the Campaign for an Independent East Timor.

Parker helped form H Block/Armagh in 1980 as a support group for republican prisoners in Irish jails.

In 1991 Parker wrote for the socialist journal Agenda. in the 1990s and contributed to the Listener and the New Zealand Herald.

In October 2013 Parker was presented with a Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation.

He had just completed a stage adaptation of The Plague by Albert Camus the day before he died.

Parker's friend, Paul Tolich, said he was a prolific scriptwriter, an Irish republican and life-long socialist. He paid tribute to him as a man of many parts, who was involved in everything from the trade union movement to running cabarets.

He said Parker would be missed by those in the arts, film and theatre for his writing and reviews, in the labour movement and as a loyal friend.

Parker lived in Auckland with his partner Isabel. They had one son, Emmet.