Battle of Manners Street

3 April 1943

US troops resting near Oriental Bay in Wellington, c. 1942 (Alexander Turnbull Library, PAColl-5936-42)

Hundreds of soldiers and civilians slugged it out on the streets of Wellington during the ‘Battle of Manners Street’, the most infamous clash between New Zealanders and American servicemen during the Second World War.

Allies fighting each other was not a good look, and news of the three-hour brawl was hushed up at the time. The incident may have begun after white soldiers from the southern United States insulted local Māori. American sailors and New Zealand merchant seamen also became involved.

At any one time during the two years after June 1942, between 15,000 and 45,000 American soldiers and sailors were based in New Zealand (see 12 June), either before or immediately after experiencing the horrors of war in the Pacific.

The ‘American invasion’ led to a clash of cultures. Romantic liaisons developed between American troops and New Zealand women, and about 1500 New Zealand women married Americans during the war.

Many New Zealand men, especially soldiers serving overseas, resented the popularity of these American ‘bedroom commandos’. Tensions erupted into large-scale fights in Wellington and Auckland.

Community contributions

3 comment has been posted about Battle of Manners Street

What do you know?

Brian Algar

Posted: 17 Jun 2017

Is there a sight where these marines go to seek out old flames or maybe find kids they fathered and have never known? Pretty sure my dad is one of those kids