Skip to main content

Month Calendar View

Historic NZ events in February

1922

Janet Mackenzie became the first teacher in what was to become the Correspondence School for Back-block Children

1842

The Fifeshire arrived in Nelson with immigrants for the New Zealand Company's first settlement in the South Island.

1981

Trans-Tasman sporting relations hit a new low at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when Australian captain Greg Chappell ordered his brother Trevor to bowl the final delivery of a 50-over cricket international against New Zealand underarm (along the ground).

1939

A massive fire destroyed the nearly completed three-storey Social Security building. Just seven weeks later, a replacement building was opened by Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

1974

The men’s 1500-m final was run on the last day of the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games. Tanzanian Filbert Bayi ran the first 800 m in an astonishing 1 minute 52.2 seconds, conserved energy on the third lap, and held off 22-year-old New Zealander John Walker to set a new world record of 3:32.16.

1931

When the earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, struck at 10.47 a.m., many buildings in central Napier and Hastings collapsed.

1868

An ex-tropical cyclone swept south across the country from Saturday 1st. By the time it moved away on Tuesday 4th, more than 40 people had died.

1985

New Zealand's Labour government refused the USS Buchanan entry because the United States would neither confirm nor deny that the warship had nuclear capability.

1975

American Lynne Cox swam from the North Island to the South in 12 hours 7 minutes. The fourth person to do so, she battled heavy seas and strong winds.

1994

The Big Day Out, an Australian franchise based on the successful Lollapalooza model, brought alternative, hard rock, hip hop and, more recently, dance acts together in a one-day festival in Auckland.

1911

Pioneering aviator Vivian Walsh took to the skies over South Auckland for the first successful flight in New Zealand.

1867

The 27-km line between Invercargill and Bluff was the third public railway in New Zealand. Southland's railway ambitions helped drive the province into bankruptcy.

1871

The first public girls’ secondary school in the southern hemisphere was Otago Girls’ High School, which opened eight years after the local public boys’ high school.

1840

More than 40 Māori chiefs signed a treaty with the British Crown in the Bay of Islands. The Treaty of Waitangi remains controversial.

1947

The liner, carrying 400 passengers, struck Barrett Reef in Wellington Harbour on 19 January. Only an unusually long spell of calm weather - dubbed 'Wanganella weather' by locals - saved it from becoming a total wreck.

1963

Fifteen people were killed and 21 injured, many severely, when a bus returning to Auckland from Waitangi Day celebrations in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip lost its brakes on Brynderwyn hill

1863

For the British it was the costliest day of the New Zealand Wars – but it occurred far from the battlefield. Bringing naval stores from Sydney, the modern 1706-ton steam corvette HMS Orpheus ran aground on the bar at the entrance to Auckland’s Manukau Harbour.

1915

Able Seaman William Edward Knowles became one of the first New Zealanders to die in the First World War as a result of enemy action.

1972

New Zealand’s women cricketers achieved their first test victory at the 17th attempt. They had lost seven and drawn nine of their previous tests, all against either England or Australia.

1931

All three people on board a Dominion Airlines Desoutter died when it crashed near Wairoa in northern Hawke’s Bay.

1770

The Endeavour's arrival at Cape Turnagain confirmed that the North Island was indeed an island, not part of a fabled great southern continent.

1900

The large wooden building on St Hill Street has been a jewel in Whanganui’s crown for more than a century.

1967

New Zealand schoolchildren received free milk between 1937 and 1967. The first Labour government introduced the scheme – a world first – to improve the health of young New Zealanders (and make use of surplus milk).

1864

Recommended for a Victoria Cross after rescuing a soldier under fire at Waiari, near Pirongia, Charles Heaphy was given the decoration in 1867.

1909

The Picton-Wellington ferry SS Penguin struck rocks in Cook Strait and sank in heavy seas off a rugged, isolated coast. Only 30 of the 102 people on board survived.

1983

At 44 for 6 in reply to Australia’s 302, New Zealand was heading for an embarrassing defeat in the second final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup when Lance Cairns took guard with his bat, ‘Excalibur’.

1869

A Ngāti Maniapoto war party sacked the redoubt at Pukearuhe (White Cliffs) in northern Taranaki, killing military settlers, family members and the missionary John Whiteley.

1974

Sergeant Murray Hudson died attempting to save the life of another soldier during a live grenade training exercise at Waiōuru military camp.

1915

Imperial policy initially prevented 'native peoples' fighting in a war between European powers. In February 1915, however, a 500-strong Maori Contingent left Wellington for Egypt.

1998

New Zealand’s new national museum, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, was officially opened on Wellington’s waterfront after a decade of planning and construction.

1978

Chasing 137 for victory in the first test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, England was bowled out for 64, with Richard Hadlee taking 6 for 26.

1882

New Zealand’s first successful shipment of frozen meat to Britain in 1882 had a huge impact on the colony, paving the way for the trade in frozen meat and dairy products that became the cornerstone of New Zealand’s 20th-century economy.

1986

At 5.37 p.m. on 16 February 1986, the Soviet cruise liner Mikhail Lermontov hit rocks off Cape Jackson in the Marlborough Sounds.

1770

Lieutenant James Cook sighted Banks Peninsula from the Endeavour. The following day he decided it was an island, which he named for the expedition's botanist, Joseph Banks.

1873

On 17 February 1873, Aucklanders awoke to the alarming news that a Russian warship had entered Waitematā Harbour undetected and landed troops.

1957

Walter Bolton, a 68-year-old Whanganui farmer, became the last person executed in New Zealand.

1982

Ngaio Marsh, one of the 'Queens of Crime' in the 1920s and 1930s, died just weeks after submitting her 32nd detective novel, Light thickens, to her publishers. She was also an artist, playwright, actor and director.

1938

Twenty men and one woman drowned when a cloudburst sent a wall of water surging through a public works camp in the Kōpuawhara Valley, near Māhia.

1954

Eighteen months after winning the long jump at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Williams set a new world record of 20 feet 7½ inches (6.29 m) at an athletics meeting in Gisborne.

1914

J.W.H. Scotland flew a Caudron biplane from Invercargill to Gore, the first cross-country flight in New Zealand.

1879

On the morning of 21 February 1879, an explosion rocked the coal mine at Kaitangata, South Otago.

1902

Wellington's iconic cable car was built to provide residents of the developing hill suburb of Kelburn with quick access to and from downtown Lambton Quay.

2011

At 12.51 p.m. on Tuesday 22 February 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake caused severe damage in Christchurch and Lyttelton, killing 185 people and injuring several thousand.

1940

The Battle of the River Plate in December 1939 was the Allies’ first naval victory of the Second World War. The involvement of the cruiser HMS Achilles, more than half of whose crew were New Zealanders, was greeted with jubilation in New Zealand.

1904

Nearly 1 million ha of far western Southland and Otago was set aside as a national reserve.

1912

For more than a century, the TSS Earnslaw has carried freight and people to and from remote settlements on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

1902

Twenty-four New Zealanders were killed in this battle during the South African (Boer) War. A total of 230 New Zealanders died while serving in New Zealand's first overseas war.

1943

Just outside the Wairarapa town of Featherston, a memorial garden marks the site of a Second World War incident that resulted in the deaths of 48 Japanese prisoners of war and one guard.

1844

William Brewer died of wounds received during a pistol duel with another Wellington lawyer, H. Ross, on 26 February 1844. The duel followed a quarrel over a case in the Wellington County Court.

1951

The waterfront dispute of 1951 was the biggest industrial confrontation in New Zealand’s history, lasting for five months, from February to July. At its peak, 22,000 waterside workers and other unionists were off the job.

1945

After more than a year on the run in northern Italy, New Zealand prisoner of war David Russell was recaptured and executed. His courage in the face of death earned him the first George Cross awarded to a member of New Zealand’s military.

1924

Following a US study tour by Frank Milner, the rector of Waitaki Boys’ High School in Ōamaru, the Education Department began applying the Terman Group Test of Mental Ability to all first-year post-primary school students

1964

A milling road provided the first vehicle access to the tiny Urewera settlement of Maungapōhatu – famous as the former home of the prophet Rua Kēnana

2004

Peter Jackson’s last film in the colossal Lord of the rings trilogy, The return of the king, won all 11 Oscars it was nominated for at the 76th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.