73 years ago Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage dies (27 March 1940) Mickey Savage, as many New Zealanders fondly referred to him, was the country’s first Labour Prime Minister. Australian-born Savage had arrived in New Zealand in 1907. He became the Labour MP for Auckland Central electorate in 1919. Labour’sRead more

70 years ago, 48 Japanese prisoners of war are killed during a riot at the Featherston prisoner of war camp (25 February 1943) From 1942, Japanese prisoners of war were brought to New Zealand and interned at the camp at Featherston, in the Wairarapa. This camp had previously been used as aRead more

St Joseph’s Home for Incurable opens 113 years ago (29 January 1900) This home for so-called ‘incurables’, in Buckle Street, Wellington, was an initiative set up by Reverend Mother Mary Joseph Aubert, with the help of Catholic nuns, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion. Mother Aubert was the founderRead more

Seventy one years ago, New Zealand declares war on Japan after the bombing of the US naval bases at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii (8 December 1941) The bombing of Pearl Harbour set the Pacific War in motion. This event and Japan’s subsequent expansion through the Philippines, Thailand and the Malaysian peninsula,Read more

93 years ago the first health camp opens at Turakina (25 November 1919) New Zealand’s first health camp was founded by Dr Elizabeth Gunn.  The first group of 55 children stayed in tents for three weeks. Gunn had been a military doctor, and brought this experience with her to the runningRead more

77 years ago the distribution of free milk to 5500 primary school children in Auckland begins (14 October 1935)  This world first began as a temporary measure in Auckland for primary school children up to Standard 4 (year 6). The experiment, paid for the Auckland City Council, was closely watchedRead more

105 years ago New Zealand becomes a Dominion (26 September 1907) At 11am, 26 September 1907, New Zealand officially moved up in the ranks in the British Empire. On that day it became a Dominion instead of a Colony. That night, electric illuminations on buildings in the capital proclaimed this auspiciousRead more

98 years ago New Zealand troops land at Apia, German Samoa (29 August 1914) Ten days after New Zealand entered the war in Europe, it sent troops to occupy German Samoa. This force of almost 1400 men was specifically charged with seizing the colony’s wireless transmitter. The troops that landed atRead more

26 years ago the Homosexual Law Reform Bill is signed into law by the Governor General (11 July 1986) This historic piece of legislation, introduced by Labour MP, Fran Wilde in March 1985, decriminalised sexual relations between men aged 16 years and over. This was after a close vote inRead more

25 years ago the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act is passed (8 June 1987). This legislation was a flash point in the history of New Zealand’s international relations. It derailed New Zealand’s defence alliance with the USA and Australia known as Anzus. The Anzus Treaty,Read more

47 years ago  Keith Holyoake announced that New Zealand would send a combat unit to Vietnam to support the US-led coalition fighting there (24 May 1965). This is a portrait of the National party Prime Minister Keith Holyoake who, at the end of May 1965, announced that a combat unitRead more

Thirty years ago, Wellington is voted nuclear weapons-free by the city council (14 April 1982). In 1981, New Zealand peace groups began campaigning for sites around the country to become nuclear weapons-free. This initiative was supposed to highlight the dangers of nuclear weapons and to change national policies related toRead more