After years of prosperity based first on wool and gold, and in the 1870s on government spending, New Zealand sank into depression in the 1880s. There was hardship in town and country. Rural labourers were always in precarious economic situations and depression made the situation worse for many. These seasonal farm workers, pictured in the Illustrated New Zealand News of 1885, were living in rough barracks. The alternative would have been ‘life on the swag’, as itinerants.
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