A crowd outside Queens Wharf during the 1913 waterfront strike.
New Zealand society was broken apart by this violent and bitter industrial dispute. Wellington saw street fighting between Massey’s Cossacks and the Red Feds, with cavalry charges, revolver fire and machine guns deployed at the wharves and on Buckle Street.
About 14,000 workers around the country staged massive demonstrations and spontaneous strikes, accompanied by a wave of violence. Thousands of mounted special police from rural areas, dubbed Massey’s Cossacks after Prime Minister William Massey, were brought in to confront militant urban workers and their supporters.
The parade, including ‘strikers’ on horseback, street performers and live music, starts from Queens Wharf, and goes along Lambton Quay to Bunny Street.
Also, every Sunday during November, you can join a guided walk, starting at 10am from the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, which takes in the main historical sites related to the Great Strike. There’s also a display of photos in the museum.
The centenary events have been coordinated by the Labour History Project, with support from Wellington City Council and the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, as well as trade unions, and culture and heritage institutions.
To find out more about the Great Strike and the guided walk, visit:
Centennial Events - 1913 Great Strike