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Labour Party

Events In History

13 August 2005

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 until 1989.

29 July 2003

Twenty-nine-year-old Moana Mackey entered the House of Representatives as a Labour Party list MP. She joined her mother, Janet Mackey, who had been a Labour MP since 1993. They were the first mother and daughter to serve together in New Zealand’s Parliament.

1 October 1986

Adding 10 per cent to the cost of most goods and services, GST was a key part of the economic reforms of the fourth Labour government – dubbed ‘Rogernomics’ after Minister of Finance Roger Douglas.

26 July 1984

Ann Hercus became New Zealand’s first Minister of Women’s Affairs following the election of the fourth Labour government. 

31 August 1974

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.

25 March 1940

A charismatic ex-soldier, orator and writer, John A. Lee had been active in the New Zealand Labour Party since shortly after the First World War.

14 September 1938

The cornerstone of the first Labour government’s welfare programme, the Social Security Act overhauled the pension system and extended benefits for families, invalids and the unemployed.

18 September 1937

Most of the Labour Cabinet helped the first tenants move into 12 Fife Lane in Miramar, Wellington. Even Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage carried a cumbersome dining table through a cheering throng.

22 April 1936

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.

27 November 1935

The 1935 general election has long been seen a defining moment in New Zealand history. Undermined by its failure to cope with the distress of the Depression, the Coalition (‘National’) government was routed by the Labour Party, led by Michael Joseph Savage.

7 July 1916

What is now New Zealand’s oldest political party emerged from a joint conference in Wellington of the United Federation of Labour, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and local Labour Representation Committees (LRCs).


State housing

New Zealand's first state house was formally opened on 18 September 1937. But the government has provided rental housing for New Zealanders for more than a century. Explore the history of this country's various state housing schemes and their contribution to the New Zealand way of life. Read the full article

Page 2 - The first state house

Prime Minister Savage helped out at the opening of the Labour government's first state house in 1937 at 12 Fife Lane, Miramar,

Page 3 - The state steps in and out

The National government introduced full market rents in 1991 to reduce the state role in housing provision. From the start, public debate over state housing policy in New Zealand

Page 4 - Designing communities

Community has many different meanings. People might live in a particular community, but have little contact with their neighbours, preferring instead to pursue their social life

Homosexual law reform

The homosexual law reform campaign moved beyond the gay community to wider issues of human rights and discrimination. Extreme viewpoints ensured a lengthy and passionate debate before the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed in July 1986. Read the full article

Page 4 - Reforming the law

To bring about change in the law, the gay movement needed a parliamentary champion. It found one in Labour MP Fran

1981 Springbok tour

For 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. The cause of this was the visit of the South African rugby team – the Springboks. Read the full article

Page 4 - Stopping the 1973 tour

Keeping sport and politics separate was becoming increasingly difficult. In July 1969 HART (Halt All Racist Tours) was founded by University of Auckland students with the specific

The 1951 waterfront dispute

The 1951 waterfront dispute was the biggest industrial confrontation in New Zealand’s history. Although it was not as violent as the Great Strike of 1913, it lasted longer – 151 days, from February to July – and involved more workers. Read the full article

Page 1 - The 1951 waterfront dispute

The 1951 waterfront dispute was the biggest industrial confrontation in New Zealand’s history. Although it was not as violent as the Great Strike of 1913, it lasted longer – 151

Page 2 - Countdown to confrontation

New Zealanders generally accepted the hardships and restrictions of the war years as necessary in the fight against fascism. After the war, though, many began to demand a greater

Page 4 - Division and defeat

The watersiders’ militancy had isolated them from most unionists and Walter Nash’s Labour Party Opposition sat uncomfortably on the fence, denouncing government repression but

New Zealand in Samoa

New Zealand was ill-equipped to cope with the Western Samoa mandate it was allocated by the League of Nations in 1920. The Mau movement's passive resistance culminated in the violence of 'Black Saturday', 28 December 1929, which left 11 Samoans and one New Zealand policeman dead. Read the full article

Page 8 - Towards independence

On 4 June 2002 Prime Minister Helen Clark offered 'a formal apology to the people of Samoa for the injustices arising from New Zealand's administration of Samoa in its earlier

The 1970s

The 1970s were an era of economic and social change. Global oil shocks hit the New Zealand economy hard, while protests against the Vietnam War and nuclear testing continued. A new generation of activists raised questions about race relations, sexuality and the welfare system in New Zealand. Read the full article

Page 2 - Overview

Summary of what NZ was like in the 1970s, including our population, economy, popular culture, protest issues, politics and sporting

The 1913 Great Strike

The Great Strike of 1913 was in fact a series of strikes between mid-October 1913 and mid-January 1914. It was one of New Zealand’s most violent and disruptive industrial confrontations. Read the full article

Page 7 - The defeat of the 1913 strike

The seizure of the wharves in Wellington and Auckland greatly reduced the strikers’ industrial power. Similar takeovers by ‘scab’ arbitration unions soon happened in other