Month Calendar View

Historic NZ events in August

Aug

1

Te reo Māori recognised as official language

1987 Te reo Māori recognised as official language

The Maori Language Act came into force, making te reo Māori an official language of New Zealand.

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Aug

2

Protest as USS <em>Texas</em> visits Auckland

1983 Protest as USS Texas visits Auckland

The visit of the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Texas sparked anti-nuclear rallies on land and sea.

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Barbara Kendall wins gold at Barcelona

1992 Barbara Kendall wins gold at Barcelona

Windsurfer Barbara Kendall was New Zealand’s only gold medallist at the Barcelona Olympics.

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Aug

3

Anthony Trollope arrives for New Zealand tour

1872 Anthony Trollope arrives for New Zealand tour

Anthony Trollope, one of the Victorian era’s most famous novelists, landed at Bluff at the start of a two-month tour of New Zealand. Read more...

Finnish sailing ship seized as war prize

1941 Finnish sailing ship seized as war prize

Five days after its arrival in Wellington, the four-masted barque Pamir was seized in prize by the New Zealand government.

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Aug

4

Rail tunnel pierces the Southern Alps

1923 Rail tunnel pierces the Southern Alps

The opening of the 8.5-km Ōtira tunnel completed the long-planned transalpine railway between Christchurch and Greymouth. At the time, it was the longest tunnel in the southern hemisphere and the sixth-longest in the world.

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Cook Islands achieves self-government

1965 Cook Islands achieves self-government

First included within the boundaries of New Zealand in 1901, the islands were governed by a Resident Commissioner until 1946. When they achieved self-government, Cook Islanders remained New Zealand citizens.

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Aug

5

New Zealand enters the First World War

1914 New Zealand enters the First World War

New Zealand received the news of the outbreak of war just before 1 p.m. on 5 August. At 3 p.m. the Governor, Lord Liverpool, announced the news from the steps of Parliament to a large and enthusiastic crowd.

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Cartwright Report condemns cancer treatment

1988 Cartwright Report condemns cancer treatment

The report was triggered by the publication in Metro magazine of ‘An Unfortunate Experiment’, an article by Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle which alleged that cervical cancer patients at Auckland’s National Women’s Hospital were receiving inadequate treatment.

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Aug

6

Lovelock wins 1500-m gold at Berlin

1936 Lovelock wins 1500-m gold at Berlin

Jack Lovelock won New Zealand’s first Olympic athletics gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in a race witnessed by 120,000 spectators – including Adolf Hitler.

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Aug

7

First train runs length of main trunk line

1908 First train runs length of main trunk line

The 'Parliament Special' travelled over a makeshift track in the central section of the still-unfinished main trunk line. It carried MPs north to greet the American navy's 'Great White Fleet'.

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Death of Billy T. James

1991 Death of Billy T. James

The much-loved entertainer was just 43 when he died of heart failure.

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Beatrice Faumuina wins athletics world championship gold

1997 Beatrice Faumuina wins athletics world championship gold

Beatrice Faumuina became the first New Zealander to win an event at a World Athletics Championships when she threw the discus 66.82 m at Athens in 1997.

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Aug

8

Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair

1915 Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair

The high point of the New Zealand effort at Gallipoli, the attack on Chunuk Bair underlined the leadership qualities of Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone.

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Aug

9

US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland

1908 US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland

Sixteen American battleships arrived in New Zealand with much pomp and ceremony.

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George Nepia plays last All Blacks test

1930 George Nepia plays last All Blacks test

Nepia was one of the stars of the 1924-5 All Blacks, playing in all 32 matches on the team's tour of the British Isles, France and Canada. He played the last of his nine tests in 1930, against the British Lions.

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Aug

10

British assert sovereignty as French head for Akaroa

1840 British assert sovereignty as French head for Akaroa

HMS Britomart arrived at Akaroa, on Banks Peninsula, a week before a shipload of French colonists landed there. The ship's captain raised the Union Jack to confirm British sovereignty over the area.

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News Corporation's rights to professional rugby bolstered

1995 News Corporation's rights to professional rugby bolstered

All Blacks Josh Kronfeld and Jeff Wilson signed contracts with the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), heralding the victory of Rupert Murdoch over Kerry Packer in a battle for the right to televise professional rugby.

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Aug

11

Picton ferry <em>Aramoana</em> enters service

1962 Picton ferry Aramoana enters service

Few ships have had as much impact on New Zealand history as the Aramoana, the country’s first roll-on roll-off ferry, which entered service between Wellington and Picton in 1962.

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Aug

12

New Zealand’s first missionary school opens

1816 New Zealand’s first missionary school opens

The simple building measured about 10m x 6m and included an area for Māori students to sleep and a cordoned-off platform for teachers and Pākehā students

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Winton baby-farmer Minnie Dean hanged

1895 Winton baby-farmer Minnie Dean hanged

In 1895 Southland’s Williamina (Minnie) Dean became the first – and only – woman to be hanged in New Zealand. Her story exposed the stark realities of paid childcare and the lack of choice for many women in this period.

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John Walker breaks world mile record

1975 John Walker breaks world mile record

John Walker became history’s first sub-3:50 miler on 12 August, running 3:49.4 at Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Aug

13

First fatal NZ casualty of the Great War

1914 First fatal NZ casualty of the Great War

Sapper Robert Arthur Hislop was guarding Parnell railway bridge in Auckland when he accidentally fell, dying from his injuries six days later. It would take a century for Hislop to be officially recognised as the first New Zealand casualty of the Great War.

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Death of David Lange

2005 Death of David Lange

David Lange was New Zealand's youngest prime minister of the 20th century. Renowned for his sharp wit and oratory, he led the fourth Labour government from 1984 to 1989.

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Aug

14

Women's suffrage petitions presented to Parliament

1891 Women's suffrage petitions presented to Parliament

These petitions, signed by 9000 women, contributed to the introduction of a Female Suffrage Bill in Parliament. This received majority support in the House of Representatives but was defeated in the Legislative Council.

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Polar blast sweeps the country

2011 Polar blast sweeps the country

New Zealand’s heaviest snowfall in decades closed airports and schools, forced the cancellation of buses and trains, caused electricity blackouts and cut off many communities across the country. Weather watchers described the storm as ‘a once in a lifetime event’. Read more...

Aug

15

The war is over!  VJ Day

1945 The war is over! VJ Day

Japan's surrender following the atomic bombing ofHiroshima and Nagasaki ended the Second World War. More than 200,000 New Zealanders had served during the war and more than 11,500 had died.

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Troopship <em>Wahine</em> wrecked en route to Korea

1951 Troopship Wahine wrecked en route to Korea

After three decades on the Lyttelton–Wellington ferry run, and service in two world wars, the TSS Wahine was chartered by the New Zealand government to transport Kayforce troops to the Korean War. Shortly after leaving Darwin the Wahine ran aground on Masela Island in the Arafura Sea, east of Timor. There were no fatalities but the ship became a total loss.

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Aug

16

CORSO formed

1944 CORSO formed

CORSO was set up to support aid efforts in war-torn nations. It became increasingly involved in the developing world and also spoke out about poverty in New Zealand.

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Evers-Swindell twins defend Olympic rowing title at Beijing

2008 Evers-Swindell twins defend Olympic rowing title at Beijing

While Kiwis had high expectations of their rowing squad at the Beijing Olympics, few expected identical twins Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell to successfully defend the double sculls title they had won in Athens in 2004.

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Aug

17

New Zealand Company ship <em>Tory</em> arrives

1839 New Zealand Company ship Tory arrives

The sailing ship Tory dropped anchor in Queen Charlotte Sound to pick up fresh water, food and wood before proceeding to Port Nicholson (Wellington Harbour).

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Attack on the <em>Nino Bixio</em>

1942 Attack on the Nino Bixio

118 New Zealand prisoners of war died when the Italian transport ship Nino Bixio was torpedoed by a British submarine in the Mediterranean.

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Aug

18

Champion rower Dick Arnst wins race on Zambezi River

1910 Champion rower Dick Arnst wins race on Zambezi River

Former top cyclist Dick Arnst had become world sculling champion in 1908. After two successful title defences at home, the muscular Arnst raced in a more exotic setting – on the Zambezi River.

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20-year-old hanged for murder

1955 20-year-old hanged for murder

Edward Te Whiu was one of the last four people executed in New Zealand. He admitted to killing 75-year-old widow Florence Smith, but his underprivileged background and childlike mental state led some to question the appropriateness of the death penalty.

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Deadline for Vietnam pull-out announced

1971 Deadline for Vietnam pull-out announced

Prime Minister Keith Holyoake’s statement in Parliament that New Zealand’s combat force would be withdrawn before the end of the year coincided with a similar announcement by the Australian government.

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Aug

19

E.G. Wakefield elected to Parliament

1853 E.G. Wakefield elected to Parliament

The originator of the New Zealand Company was elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Hutt six months after arriving in the colony. He had been quick to lobby for the introduction of responsible government.

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Kiwi pilot's sacrifice saves French village

1944 Kiwi pilot's sacrifice saves French village

As his damaged Hawker Typhoon fighter-bomber rapidly lost height, Pilot Officer James Stellin struggled to avoid crashing into Saint-Maclou-la-Brière, a village of 370 people. He succeeded, but at the cost of his own life. The villagers gave him a hero’s funeral and have honoured his memory ever since.

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Three New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan

2012 Three New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan

At approximately 9:20 p.m. Afghanistan time, a Humvee taking a patrol member to see a doctor at the Romero base in Bamiyan province was destroyed by an improvised explosive device.

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Aug

20

First use of kiwi as unofficial national symbol?

1904 First use of kiwi as unofficial national symbol?

The New Zealand Free Lance printed a J.C. Blomfield cartoon in which a plucky kiwi morphed into a moa as the All Blacks defeated Great Britain 9–3 in the first rugby test between Motherland and colony. This may have been the first use of a kiwi to symbolise the nation in a cartoon.

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<em>Turakina</em> sunk by German raider in Tasman

1940 Turakina sunk by German raider in Tasman

It was the first naval battle in the Tasman Sea. The New Zealand Shipping Company freighter Turakina was intercepted and sunk by the Orion nearly 500 km off the Taranaki coast with the loss of 36 lives. Twenty survivors were taken prisoner.

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Aug

21

New Zealanders attack Hill 60

1915 New Zealanders attack Hill 60

Hill 60 was the last offensive action fought by the New Zealanders during the Gallipoli campaign. The ‘abominable little hill’, as it was dubbed by Brigadier-General Andrew Russell, saw bitter fighting between New Zealand mounted riflemen and Ottoman troops in late August 1915.

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Auckland pedestrians begin 'Barnes Dance'

1958 Auckland pedestrians begin 'Barnes Dance'

Auckland became the first New Zealand city to introduce the ‘Barnes Dance’ system, which stopped all traffic at intersections, allowing pedestrians to cross in any direction at the same time.

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Aug

22

First 'Young Farmer of the Year' chosen

1969 First 'Young Farmer of the Year' chosen

Held at the South Pacific Hotel in Auckland, the competition was open to all members of the Young Farmers’ Club. The inaugural winner was Gary Frazer from Swannanoa, near Christchurch. The contest has become an established part of the farming calendar.

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Aug

23

Writer Robin Hyde dies in London

1939 Writer Robin Hyde dies in London

The journalist, poet and novelist, born Iris Wilkinson, was one of New Zealand's finest inter-war writers. Troubled by depression, illness and poverty, she took her own life in London.

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Assisted immigration resumes after war

1947 Assisted immigration resumes after war

The first draft of 118 British immigrants arrived in Auckland on the New Zealand Shipping Company liner Rangitata. They were among 77,000 men, women and children who arrived from Great Britain under the assisted immigration scheme between 1947 and 1975.

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Aug

24

Wellington steam-tram service opened

1878 Wellington steam-tram service opened

The governor, the Marquess of Normanby, formally opened the new service, which was said to be the first in the southern hemisphere.

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Aug

25

New Zealand soldier executed

1916 New Zealand soldier executed

After being found guilty of desertion, 28-year-old Private Frank Hughes was killed by a firing squad in Hallencourt, northern France. He was the first New Zealand soldier executed during the First World War.

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First flight across Cook Strait

1920 First flight across Cook Strait

Captain Euan Dickson completed the first air crossing of Cook Strait, flying a 110-hp Le Rhone Avro from Christchurch to Upper Hutt and carrying the first air mail between the South and North Islands.

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Killer twister hits Frankton

1948 Killer twister hits Frankton

Three people were killed, 80 injured and about 150 buildings destroyed or badly damaged by New Zealand’s deadliest recorded tornado. The damage was estimated at more than £1 million (equivalent to about $75 million today).

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Aug

26

Telegraph line laid across Cook Strait

1866 Telegraph line laid across Cook Strait

After two bungled attempts and near disaster at sea, the installation of the first communications cable between the North and South Islands of New Zealand was completed. A simple copper telegraph cable was laid on the sea floor from Whites Bay, north of Blenheim, to Lyall Bay on Wellington’s south coast.

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Death of second Māori King

1894 Death of second Māori King

Tāwhiao had led his people through the traumatic period during and after the wars of the 1860s. He was succeeded by his son Mahuta.

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New Zealand Coat of Arms warranted

1911 New Zealand Coat of Arms warranted

On this day King George V signed the Royal Warrant assigning the first New Zealand Coat of Arms. The Warrant was published in the New Zealand Gazette on 11 January 1912.

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Aug

27

Foundation stone for Victoria University’s first building laid

1904 Foundation stone for Victoria University’s first building laid

Victoria College (now Victoria University of Wellington) was founded in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria's 60th jubilee. Until the opening of the Kelburn building in 1906, classes were taught in rented rooms.

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Pawelka's last prison break

1911 Pawelka's last prison break

Joseph Pawelka’s escape from Wellington’s Terrace Gaol was the last of three bold but seemingly effortless prison escapes he made over a period of 18 months.

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Aug

28

'Heavenly creatures' found guilty of murder

1954 'Heavenly creatures' found guilty of murder

Pauline Parker, aged 16, and Juliet Hulme, 15, were convicted of the murder of Pauline's mother Honora at Christchurch on 22 June. Their story was later the subject of Peter Jackson's acclaimed film, Heavenly creatures.

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Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

1992 Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

Cantabrians awoke to find the region blanketed in snow. The ‘Big Snow’, as the 1992 storm came to be known, was the region’s heaviest for 30 years.

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Aug

29

New Zealand force captures German Samoa

1914 New Zealand force captures German Samoa

Colonel Robert Logan led a 1400-strong expeditionary force to capture German Samoa in New Zealand’s first action of the First World War. This was the second German territory, after Togoland in East Africa, to fall to the Allies in the war.

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Aug

30

Kawarau Falls dam becomes operational

1926 Kawarau Falls dam becomes operational

Hundreds attended the opening ceremony for a dam above the Kawarau Falls which was to temporarily block the outlet from Lake Wakatipu and hopefully expose gold-bearing rock to prospectors.

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Four killed by Rotorua geyser

1903 Four killed by Rotorua geyser

Guide Joseph Warbrick and three tourists were killed instantly when the Waimangu geyser erupted unexpectedly.

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Aug

31

Wreck of the <em>Sophia Pate</em>

1841 Wreck of the Sophia Pate

The fate of the brig Sophia Pate, wrecked on a sandbar at the entrance to Kaipara Harbour with the loss of 21 lives, highlighted the dangers of navigating New Zealand’s poorly charted coastal waters.

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Arbitration Act becomes law

1894 Arbitration Act becomes law

The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration (IC&A) Act made New Zealand the first country in the world to outlaw strikes and introduce compulsory arbitration.

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Death of Norman Kirk

1974 Death of Norman Kirk

Leader of the Labour Party since 1965 and prime minister since late 1972, 'Big Norm' died suddenly at the age of 51. He was the fifth New Zealand PM to die in office.

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