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Lyttelton wharf during 1913 strike


Special constables’ horses at the Lyttelton wharf during the 1913 strike. Lyttelton’s watersiders struck on 30 October in response to a call from the United Federation of Labour (UFL) for action in support of the Wellington watersiders. Lyttelton was quiet in the first weeks of the strike, but on 18 November strike supporters invaded the wharves to stop an attempt to load ships.

The authorities then began recruiting special constables from surrounding rural areas. The mounted specials camped at the Addington showgrounds. Early on the morning of 25 November, a party of around 800 mounted and foot special constables made their way over the Port Hills and occupied the Lyttelton wharves. Once the specials were in control, ‘scab’ workers from a new arbitrationist union began loading and unloading ships.

On 24 December the striking watersiders voted to return to work. To get work they had to register as members of the arbitrationist union, but eventually this body was taken over by supporters of the UFL.

See more images of Lyttelton during the 1913 strike here (Flickr)


Auckland Weekly News, 4 December 1913

Auckland City Libraries
Ref: AWNS-19131204-50-3

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Lyttelton wharf during 1913 strike, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated