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Sarah L Rosser

Signed family name
Signed given name
Sarah L
Given address
Lichfield St
Sheet number
No suburb given

Biography contributed by Wendy Napier-Walker

Sarah L Rosser was born Sarah Louisa Craig to Joseph Craig and Louisa Craig nee Wood in Auckland in 1864.  Joseph was a Commission Agent.

Sarah Craig married Arthur Rosser on 18 November 1886 at her parents’ home in Symonds Street, Auckland by the Rev Alexander Reid, who was the Minister of the Pitt Street Wesleyan church. Arthur was a Carpenter. After their marriage they went to live in Sydney until 1891 when they returned to Auckland, where they lived in Litchfield Street.

Sarah was described in the Rosser family history “From all accounts she was a loved mother and grandmother and a strong supporter of her husband’s career”.

Arthur Rosser was a founder of the Auckland Labour movement and one of the first professional union secretaries in New Zealand.

In 1895 Arthur and Sarah moved to 4 Hepburn Street in Ponsonby.

In 1896 and 1899 Arthur stood for Parliament as Labour candidate for the Auckland City electorate, but was defeated.

In 1900 Arthur was elected to the Auckland Licensing Committee and served as one of five members for seven years.

In 1901 he was elected to the Auckland City Council, but served only one term. His involvement in organising trade unions (some nine) in a number of crafts meant that he became unpopular with employers.

In 1905 Arthur was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

In 1911 Arthur was a member of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, Auckland Central branch.

For some years he wrote a column for the Auckland Star, headed “Trade and Labour Notes” under the pseudonym of “Industrial Tramp”.

“The years leading up to the waterfront workers’ unrest culminating in the general strike in 1913 saw Arthur Rosser being pushed aside by those agitating for a more militant form of socialism”.

Arthur however continued his public duties on various civic committees, i.e. the Second Auckland Military Appeal Board.

In 1918 Arthur become Secretary of the Auckland Tramway Officers’ Association, a post he held until 1947.

Sometime prior to 1919 Arthur and Sarah moved to 11 Kipling Avenue, Epsom where Sarah lived for the rest of her life.

Arthur was President of the Auckland Justices of the Peace in 1928 and again in 1932-33, and as Dominion President in 1933-4.

After two unsuccessful attempts in 1927 and 1931, Arthur was elected in 1933 as the New Zealand Labour Party candidate for the Auckland City Council. Arthur later chaired their Works committee. Standing as an Independent he lost his seat in 1938. A year later, Arthur was expelled from the New Zealand Labour Party “for opposing Labour candidates at the municipal elections”.

Sarah and Arthur had five children, Louise Jane born 1887, Arthur (Artie) born 1890, Jessie Muriel born 1891, Emily Olive born 1894, and May Ethel born 1896.

Sarah predeceased her husband on 3 August 1937, age 73 years.  She is buried in Purewa cemetery, Block E, Row 55, Plot 168.  Arthur “lost a quiet, rather shy partner who had been his constant support for 50 years”.

Arthur died on 15 February 1954 at the age of 89 years and is buried with Sarah.

Sarah’s sister-in-law, Bertha Rosser nee Ellyett (13) also signed the Petition.


Dey, Joyce K Grandpa Rosser Came from Mumbles, Publicity Printing Limited, Tauranga, 1999 ISBN: 0-473-06133-3
NZ DIA Marriage Index 1886/2722 Sarah Louisa Craig/Arthur Roper [Rosser]
University of Warwick, Modern Records Centre, ref MSS.78/ASCJ/2/2/8, 1911
Paul Husbands. 'Rosser, Arthur', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1996. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 19 May 2018)
Purewa Cemetery and Crematorium online records

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.