Month Calendar View

Historic NZ events in January

Jan

1

New Zealand’s first lighthouse lit

1859 New Zealand’s first lighthouse lit

Pencarrow Head lighthouse, near Wellington Harbour, was lit for the first time amid great celebration. Read more...

Legislative Council abolished

1951 Legislative Council abolished

The Legislative Council was New Zealand's Upper House, to which members were appointed, not elected. It ceased to exist on New Year's Day 1951. Read more...

Jan

2

First official airmail flight to San Francisco

1938 First official airmail flight to San Francisco

The first official New Zealand airmail to the United States left Auckland for San Francisco on Pan American Airways’ Samoan Clipper. Read more...

Jan

3

First New Zealand-made 'talkie' screened

1930 First New Zealand-made 'talkie' screened

Coubray-tone News, the work of the inventive Ted Coubray, had its first public screening at Auckland's Plaza Theatre. Read more...

New Zealand Company surveyors arrive in Port Nicholson

1840 New Zealand Company surveyors arrive in Port Nicholson

Surveyors arrived in Port Nicholson to lay out the proposed New Zealand Company settlement of Britannia at Pito-one (Petone). This site would prove unsuitable, prompting a move across the harbour to the present-day site of Wellington. Read more...

Jan

4

Te Kooti defeated at Ngātapa

1869 Te Kooti defeated at Ngātapa

Pursued by kūpapa and colonial troops to Ngātapa, an old hilltop pā inland from Poverty Bay, Te Kooti narrowly avoided capture after a four-day siege. Most of those with him were captured and many were executed the following day. Read more...

Hillary leads New Zealand party to South Pole

1958 Hillary leads New Zealand party to South Pole

Sir Edmund Hillary’s New Zealand team became the first to reach the South Pole overland since Robert Falcon Scott in 1912, and the first to do so in motor vehicles. Read more...

Jan

5

Occupation of Bastion Point begins

1977 Occupation of Bastion Point begins

Led by Joe Hawke, the Ōrākei Māori Action Committee occupied Takaparawhā (Bastion Point reserve), a promontory overlooking Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour. Read more...

Jan

6

Godfrey Bowen sets world sheep-shearing record

1953 Godfrey Bowen sets world sheep-shearing record

At Akers Station at Ōpiki, Manawatū, Godfrey Bowen set a new world record, shearing 456 full-wool ewes in nine hours. Read more...

Jan

7

Bumpy landing for Tasman’s first solo flyer

1931 Bumpy landing for Tasman’s first solo flyer

Australian Guy Menzies’ flight from Sydney ended awkwardly when he crash-landed in a swamp at Harihari on the West Coast. Read more...

Jan

8

Haast begins West Coast expedition

1863 Haast begins West Coast expedition

In January 1863, geologist Julius von Haast led an expedition across Canterbury in search of an overland route from the east to the west coast of the South Island. Read more...

Jan

9

Death of Katherine Mansfield

1923 Death of Katherine Mansfield

Internationally acclaimed author Katherine Mansfield revolutionised 20th-century English short-story writing. She died from tuberculosis in France, aged just 34. Read more...

Jan

10

Catholic missionaries arrive at Hokianga

1838 Catholic missionaries arrive at Hokianga

French Bishop Jean Baptiste François Pompallier arrived at Hokianga. His party celebrated their first mass three days later. Read more...

Pioneer aviators vanish over the Tasman

1928 Pioneer aviators vanish over the Tasman

New Zealanders George Hood and John Moncrieff disappeared during a ‘gallant if somewhat ill-organised attempt’ to complete the first flight across the Tasman Sea. Read more...

Jan

11

Ruapekapeka pā occupied by British forces

1846 Ruapekapeka pā occupied by British forces

The battle at Ruapekapeka (‘bats’ nest’), a sophisticated pā built by the Ngāpuhi chief Kawiti, ended the Northern War. Debate soon raged as to whether the fortress had been deliberately abandoned or captured. Read more...

Jan

12

Queen Elizabeth II opens Parliament

1954 Queen Elizabeth II opens Parliament

A crowd of 50,000 greeted Queen Elizabeth II, resplendent in her coronation gown, when she opened a special session of the New Zealand Parliament in its centennial year. Read more...

Jan

13

'Torpedo Billy' Murphy wins world featherweight boxing title

1890 'Torpedo Billy' Murphy wins world featherweight boxing title

By defeating Irishman Ike Weir at San Francisco, Murphy became the first New Zealander to win a world professional boxing title. Read more...

Jan

14

Bob Fitzsimmons wins world middleweight boxing title

1891 Bob Fitzsimmons wins world middleweight boxing title

Fitzsimmons knocked out Jack Dempsey in New Orleans to become the second New Zealander to hold a world boxing title. Read more...

14-year-old finds New Zealand’s oldest fossils

1948 14-year-old finds New Zealand’s oldest fossils

In 1948, a 14-year-old Nelson schoolboy discovered the oldest fossils ever found in New Zealand. Read more...

Jan

15

Vietnam War protesters greet United States Vice-President

1970 Vietnam War protesters greet United States Vice-President

United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s three-day visit to New Zealand sparked some of the most violent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations seen in this country. Read more...

Jan

16

Women's Auxiliary Air Force founded

1941 Women's Auxiliary Air Force founded

The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was formed to enable the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) to release more men for overseas service during the Second World War. Read more...

Jan

17

New Zealand Constitution Act comes into force

1853 New Zealand Constitution Act comes into force

Governor Sir George Grey issued a proclamation to bring the New Zealand Constitution Act (UK) of 1852 into operation, establishing a system of representative government for the colony. Read more...

Jan

18

'Montego Bay' hits number one

1980 'Montego Bay' hits number one

Upper Hutt’s Jon Stevens made back-to-back no. 1 singles when ‘Montego Bay’ bumped ‘Jezebel’ from the top of the New Zealand charts. Read more...

Jan

19

Hōne Heke cuts down the British flag -  again

1845 Hōne Heke cuts down the British flag - again

The first Māori to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, Ngāpuhi chief Hōne Heke Pōkai soon became disenchanted with the consequences of colonisation. Read more...

19 killed in Strongman Mine explosion at Rūnanga

1967 19 killed in Strongman Mine explosion at Rūnanga

Nineteen men were killed when an explosion ripped through the Strongman coal mine at Rūnanga. An inquiry found that safety regulations had not been followed and a shot hole for a charge had been incorrectly fired. Read more...

Jan

20

Scott Base opens in Antarctica

1957 Scott Base opens in Antarctica

Captain Harold Ruegg, Administrator for the Ross Dependency, opened Scott Base, New Zealand’s permanent Antarctic research station, during a ceremony on Ross Island. Read more...

Jan

21

Ice comes to Nelson

1859 Ice comes to Nelson

Enjoying a cold drink on a hot afternoon was not always as simple as adding ice from the freezer to water from the refrigerator. Once the ice made a much longer journey. Read more...

American acrobat parachutes from balloon

1889 American acrobat parachutes from balloon

‘Professor’ Thomas Baldwin descended by parachute from a balloon floating high above South Dunedin. Read more...

New Zealand and Australia sign the Canberra Pact

1944 New Zealand and Australia sign the Canberra Pact

The Canberra Pact was an undertaking by the two countries to co-operate on international matters, especially in the Pacific. Read more...

Jan

22

European settlers arrive in Wellington

1840 European settlers arrive in Wellington

The New Zealand Company's first settler ship, the Aurora, arrived at Petone, founding the settlement that would become Wellington Read more...

Jan

23

Massive earthquake hits southern North Island

1855 Massive earthquake hits southern North Island

The magnitude 8.2 earthquake has had a profound impact on the development of Wellington city. Read more...

Disastrous centennial yacht race begins

1951 Disastrous centennial yacht race begins

Twenty yachts left Wellington for Lyttelton in a race to celebrate Canterbury's centenary. The fleet ran into a severe southerly storm and only one yacht officially finished the race. Two others were lost, along with their 10 crew. members Read more...

Jan

24

Imperial forces invade south Taranaki

1865 Imperial forces invade south Taranaki

Over a thousand British troops commanded by Duncan Cameron set out on what was to be the general’s final campaign in New Zealand. Read more...

Soviet ambassador expelled

1980 Soviet ambassador expelled

The New Zealand government ordered the Soviet Union ambassador, Vsevolod Sofinsky, to leave the country within 72 hours after he allegedly delivered money to the pro-Soviet Socialist Unity Party (SUP). Read more...

Jan

25

First day of competition at Christchurch Commonwealth Games

1974 First day of competition at Christchurch Commonwealth Games

The opening ceremony of the ‘Friendly Games’ had featured performances by schoolchildren and a Māori concert party. Next day, Canterbury runner Dick Tayler ensured the success of the Games with a surprise victory for the host nation in the 10,000 m track race. Read more...

Jan

26

Governor FitzRoy arrives to investigate Wairau incident

1844 Governor FitzRoy arrives to investigate Wairau incident

Faced with demands for revenge after 22 settlers were killed in an incident in the Wairau Valley, Governor Robert FitzRoy decided that the Māori had been provoked by the unreasonable actions of the Europeans. Read more...

Floods devastate Southland

1984 Floods devastate Southland

A record one-day total of up to 84.8 mm of rain caused extensive surface flooding in the streets of Invercargill, Riverton, Ōtautau, Tūātapere and Bluff. Read more...

Jan

27

Peter Snell breaks world mile record

1962 Peter Snell breaks world mile record

The 23-year-old Olympic 800-m champion hoped to run the first four-minute mile on New Zealand soil. In fact, he broke Australian Herb Elliott’s 3½-year-old world record by the smallest possible margin, 0.1 seconds. Read more...

Jan

28

D'Urville sails through 'French Pass'

1827 D'Urville sails through 'French Pass'

In a feat of navigational daring – and after several attempts – the French explorer Jules Sébastien César Dumont d’Urville sailed the Astrolabe from Tasman Bay through the narrow ‘French Pass’ into Admiralty Bay in the Marlborough Sounds. Read more...

Hardham wins Victoria Cross in South Africa

1901 Hardham wins Victoria Cross in South Africa

Wellington blacksmith William Hardham served in South Africa with the fourth New Zealand contingent. He was the only New Zealander awarded a Victoria Cross during the South African War. Read more...

Jan

29

Auckland's first Anniversary Day Regatta

1842 Auckland's first Anniversary Day Regatta

Auckland’s Anniversary Day commemorates the arrival of Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson in the Bay of Islands in 1840. Read more...

Jan

30

Bookies take last bets on New Zealand racecourses

1911 Bookies take last bets on New Zealand racecourses

A 1910 amendment to the Gaming Act banned bookmakers from New Zealand racecourses, other public places and hotels. Read more...

Queen farewells New Zealand

1954 Queen farewells New Zealand

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, left Bluff at the end of the first tour of New Zealand by a reigning monarch. Read more...

Jan

31

New Zealand's first regular airmail service begins

1921 New Zealand's first regular airmail service begins

Piloted by Captain Euan Dickson, the first flight of the Canterbury Aviation Company’s new airmail service left Christchurch at 8 a.m., carrying several hundred letters to Ashburton and Timaru into the teeth of a south-westerly gale. Read more...