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Historic NZ events in April


In 1972 legislation established the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) to provide insurance for all personal injury.

The New Zealand Cartoon Archive (now the New Zealand Cartoon and Comics Archive) was launched at a function at the National Library in Wellington by Prime Minister Jim Bolger.

In an attempt to concoct a preventative against scurvy, Captain James Cook brewed a batch of beer on Resolution Island in Dusky Sound, using rimu branches and leaves.


Early European-style timber frame construction was not as effective as traditional Māori methods at keeping the heat in buildings. Specified levels of thermal insulation were not required by law until 1978.


New Zealand’s international airline, Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), was renamed Air New Zealand Limited.


The New Zealand Film Archive has grown considerably since it shared Wellington premises with the New Zealand Federation of Film Societies.


The State-owned Enterprises Act heralded a major overhaul of the public sector and was a key part of the strategy of economic liberalisation known as 'Rogernomics'.


On Sunday 2 April 1916, 57 police raided the Ngāi Tūhoe settlement of Maungapōhatu in the Urewera Ranges.


Up to 2500 New Zealand and Australian troops rioted in the Haret Al Wassir red-light district of Cairo's Ezbekieh Quarter.


Soldiers and civilians slugged it out on the streets of Wellington during the ‘Battle of Manners Street’, the best-known clash between New Zealanders and American servicemen during the Second World War.


The swearing-in of Dame Silvia Cartwright as New Zealand’s 18th governor-general completed a female clean sweep of the country’s most powerful political and legal positions.


In a world first, 30 women began training as dental nurses for the state-funded School Dental Service.

The champion racehorse Phar Lap was New Zealand-born and bred, but never raced in this country. He won 37 of his 51 races and 32 of his last 35, including the 1930 Melbourne Cup. In the gloom of the great Depression, Phar Lap’s exploits thrilled two countries.
New Zealand’s first overseas diplomatic post was created when Isaac Featherston was appointed as agent-general in London.

A British patrol was ambushed by Pai Mārire fighters near Ōakura. The heads of the seven men killed were taken around the North Island by Pai Mārire disciples to encourage enlistment in the movement.


The Maori (Pioneer) Battalion was one of only three New Zealand Expeditionary Force formations – and the only battalion – to return from the First World War as a complete unit.


The first state secondary school in New Zealand, Nelson College, opened in temporary premises in Trafalgar St with a roll of just eight boys. It eventually attracted boys from around the country as well as the local area. It now has a roll of over 1000 and continues to take both boarders and day pupils.


By the end of the year the epidemic, which was intoduced by a Mormon missionary, had killed 55 New Zealanders, all of them Māori.


Julius Vogel was the dominant political figure of the 1870s, serving as colonial treasurer and premier on several occasions, and launching massive programmes of immigration and public works.


During the 'angry autumn' of 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, unemployed workers in Dunedin reacted angrily when the Hospital Board refused to assist them.


Nine Sisters of Mercy arrived in Auckland on the Oceanie with Bishop Pompallier and a number of priests.


A special liquor referendum initially gave prohibition a majority of 13,000 over continuance (the status quo), raising the hopes of those who had for decades campaigned against the manufacture and sale of alcohol.


The sinking of the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine is New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster. Fifty-one people lost their lives that day, another died several weeks later and a 53rd victim died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck.


In 1984, Susan Devoy became the first New Zealander to win the women’s title at the prestigious British Open squash tournament, the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’.


Following police warnings of civil strife, Prime Minister Norman Kirk informed the New Zealand Rugby Football Union that the government saw ‘no alternative’ to a 'postponement' of the planned tour by the South African Springboks.


The Minnewaska, a troopship carrying the headquarters of the recently formed New Zealand Division, arrived in Marseilles, France


The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, arrived in Wellington as captain of the frigate HMS Galatea. The first member of the British royal family to visit New Zealand, he was greeted with haka, speeches and bunting.


Sixteen members of the Eighth New Zealand Contingent were killed when their train collided with a goods train at Machavie (Machavierug), near Potchefstroom in Transvaal.


The Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS New Zealand arrived in Wellington to begin a 10-week tour during which half a million New Zealanders inspected the vessel.


Pukeatua Kōhanga Reo, in Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt, accepted its first intake of tamariki on Easter Tuesday in 1982


Three years after New Zealand became the first self-governing country in which all women could vote, representatives of 11 women’s groups met in Christchurch’s Provincial Council Buildings to form the National Council of Women.


Auckland’s Queen Street riot was by far the most destructive of the disturbances that rocked the four main centres in the ‘angry autumn’ of 1932.


In the 2010s New Zealand’s women’s hockey team was consistently among the best in the world, but until 2018 it had not won a major tournament


Six students and a teacher from Elim College died in a flash flood while canyoning in the Mangatepopo Stream, Tongariro National Park.


New Zealand rugby sevens team turned the tables on 2016 Olympic champions Australia, winning a thrilling final at Robina Stadium on the Gold Coast in extra time.


The Maori Representation Act 1867 established four Māori seats in the House of Representatives, initially for a period of five years. The act gave the vote to all Māori males aged 21 and over.


Politicians and Māori leaders ceremonially turned the ‘first sod’ of the central section of the main trunk line – a project that would take 23 years to complete.


As rugby grew in popularity in New Zealand, it became necessary to standardise the administration of the game in the colony. Despite some opposition, a New Zealand Rugby Football Union was founded.


Although no New Zealanders were aboard the world’s largest passenger ship when it sank in the chilly North Atlantic with appalling loss of life, the country followed the news closely.


Waikato farmer Arthur Allan Thomas was found guilty – for the second time – of the 1970 murder of his Pukekawa neighbours Harvey and Jeanette Crewe.


The American sealer General Gates – named for a War of Independence general and commanded by Captain Abimileck Riggs – had sailed from Boston in October 1818.


About 2500 people attended the first inter-city brass band competition in the Christchurch Drill Hall. The inaugural winners were the Invercargill Garrison Band.


The first newspapers published in New Zealand were printed by Samuel Revans a month after he arrived in Port Nicholson (Wellington).


A Māori raid on the Gilfillan farm at Matarawa, just east of Whanganui, left four members of the family dead. The artist John Gilfillan and one of his daughters were severely wounded.


The Royal Red Cross was awarded to Miss Annie Alice Crisp, Lady Superintendent of Auckland Hospital, in a ceremony at Government House, Auckland.


In the 1890s the Liberal government, and especially Minister of Lands John McKenzie, was determined to ‘burst up’ large landholdings for settlement by prospective small farmers, who were among its key supporters. The first property purchased under this policy was the 34,300-ha Cheviot Estate in North Canterbury.


The 24-year-old McKenzie set a new course record of 2 hours 15 minutes 45 seconds in finishing ahead of American Tom Laris and Yutaka Aoki of Japan. He was the first New Zealander to win the Boston Marathon.


Allison Roe became the first New Zealand woman to win the prestigious Boston Marathon, burning off American star Patti Catalano and breaking the course record by nearly eight minutes.


This was the first temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the southern hemisphere.


It was opening night for The prime of Miss Jean Brodie in Christchurch’s Provincial Council buildings.


The alliance between the Rātana Church and the Labour Party was cemented at an historic meeting between Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana and Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.


New Zealander Blair Peach died after a clash between police and protesters at an anti-fascism rally in Southall, London.


Among the highlights of the April 1983 royal tour were photographs of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ infant son, Prince William, playing with New Zealand’s iconic ‘buzzy bee’ toy.


Kayforce suffered its first fatal battle casualty with the death of Second Lieutenant Dennis Fielden.


A total of 245,059 small poppies and 15,157 larger versions were sold, earning £13,166. Of that amount, £3695 was sent to help war-ravaged areas of northern France; the remainder went to unemployed returned soldiers and their families.


King George V’s son, Edward, Prince of Wales (who later reigned briefly as Edward VIII), visited New Zealand to thank the Dominion for its contribution to the Empire’s war effort.


Disaster struck during the hurried evacuation of Allied forces from Greece when hundreds of civilians and Commonwealth troops, including New Zealanders, were killed while they were boarding the Greek yacht Hellas at the port of Piraeus, near Athens.


On Anzac Day 1963, a six-strong New Zealand civilian surgical team arrived in Qui Nhon, South Vietnam as part of the Colombo Plan assistance programme. Their deployment marked the beginning of New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam War.


People in communities across New Zealand and overseas gathered to mark the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.


Each year on Anzac Day, New Zealanders and Australians mark the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings of 25 April 1915.


Couples − heterosexual or homosexual − were now able to register their relationship as a civil union. All couples in New Zealand, whether married, in a civil union, or in a de facto partnership now had the same legal rights and obligations.


At the time of his death by suicide in Cairo, many New Zealanders knew little about the Christchurch-born author of Man alone


Like many New Zealand merchant ships, the Union Steam Ship Company freighter Limerick undertook military missions during the Second World War, carrying munitions, food and equipment between New Zealand, Australia, North America and the Middle East.


Ballance was the first Liberal premier. He laid the foundation for a government that was widely seen as making New Zealand ‘the social laboratory of the world’.


Moehanga of Ngāpuhi became the first recorded Māori visitor to England when the whaler Ferret berthed in London. Moehanga (Te Mahanga) had boarded the Ferret  when it visited the Bay of Islands late in 1805.


Southlander Jack Hinton was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the night of 28 April 1941 at Kalamata during the evacuation from Greece.


Fourteen people standing on a viewing platform at Cave Creek in Paparoa National Park on the West Coast died when it suddenly collapsed and fell into the creek-bed below.


The first British rugby team to tour New Zealand played its first match, against Otago, at Dunedin’s Caledonian Ground in front of 10,000 spectators.


Signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States, the ANZUS treaty recognised that an armed attack in the Pacific area on one member would endanger the peace and safety of the others.


The British attacked the Ngāi Te Rangi stronghold of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā), defended by just 230 Māori fighters, after a heavy artillery bombardment.

The steamer Tararua, en route from Port Chalmers to Melbourne, struck a reef at Waipapa Point, Southland. Of the 151 passengers and crew on board, 131 were lost, including 12 women and 14 children.

In one of their first armed operations, several hundred Pai Mārire fighters attacked a British redoubt at Te Mōrere (Sentry Hill) in Taranaki. Scores were killed and wounded.


William Sanders received the Victoria Cross (VC) for bravery during a German U-boat (submarine) attack on his ship. He became the first – and only – New Zealander to win the British Empire’s highest military decoration in a naval action.


Robert FitzRoy, the second governor of New Zealand (1843-45), took his own life at his home near London. Opinion on his governorship has always been divided.