Mati Jujnovich, failing to do national service

Mati Jujnovich, failing to do national service

Mati Jujnovich
Labourer, born 1890, Dalmatia (Croatia)
Tried: 3 April 1919, Auckland Magistrate’s Court
Charge: Failing to do national service
Sentence: Fined £5

In the latter part of the war, public indignation grew as young Dalmatian men were able to exploit their ineligibility for military service (because they were foreign nationals) by demanding high rates of pay in the manpower-starved workforce. In late 1917 the government introduced a ‘national service’ work scheme which forced these men to work on national development projects, often in rural areas, for low wages. This scheme continued well after the war.

Twenty-nine-year-old Mati Jujnovich resented this forced labour and abandoned a public works scheme at Maungaturoto in Northland in early 1919. Chafing under the conditions, Jujnovich returned home and urged his friends to work so slowly they would get fired. The police tracked him down and hauled him before the magistrate, who fined him for abandoning the job and ordered him to pay a fine and return to work immediately.

Sources: Police Gazette, 1919, p. 386; Auckland Star, 2 April 1919, p. 5

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