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PM Holland declares state of emergency, 1951

Audio file

Hear the declaration of a state of emergency being read out by Prime Minister Holland, 21 February 1951.


Yesterday, Tuesday, at noon, I called the representatives of the watersiders to my room. And I issued them what would be interpreted as being an ultimatum. And said that the government would be loath to take any extreme action, but we felt that, if conditions of emergency did exist, that we would require the powers of such a proclamation to deal with the situation. Now we didn't take the action that some people would expect of us, and that is to declare a state of emergency there and then. We disclosed to the watersiders themselves knowledge of our intention and said unless work is resumed—normal work throughout New Zealand, is resumed on the wharves tomorrow—that's today now, Wednesday, then a proclamation of emergency will be declared.



Audio: Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. 'Dispute' an account of the 1951 waterfront conflict, 1968. Reference no: T819

Image reference:
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
Reference: Prime Minister Mr Holland [ca 7 Sept 1951] 114/346/10-G
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

How to cite this page

PM Holland declares state of emergency, 1951, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated