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Life in the 20th century

Page 2 – All in a day's work

Paid and unpaid work

Work structures daily life. Sometimes we get paid for it, but a lot of the work we do is unpaid: looking after the children, cleaning the house, doing the gardening, running the marae. Paid or unpaid, work can affect when we eat, what we wear, or when we take 'time off'.

Working the land

Farmer's docking lambs

Down on the farm, work can seem never-ending. There's a seasonal rhythm to much of it.  Sheep farmers' annual round included preventive care of their flock - drenching and dosing to keep the animals disease-free, and docking. Each season's lambs were rounded up to have their tails removed; rubber rings cut off the blood supply, or the tails were simply chopped off with a knife.

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For the public's health

Group of Maori nurses

A  Maori Health Nursing Scheme started early in the 20th century. It trained Maori nurses to work with their people. Most the of nurses were based in  Maori communities in Northland, on the East Coast and in the central North Island.

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How to cite this page

All in a day's work, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated