Story: Public holidays

Labour Day procession

New Zealand's first Labour Day was celebrated in 1890 with processions by trade unionists, who were battling to have the eight-hour working day extended to all industries. This sketch shows the Labour Day parade in Dunedin that year. Workers marched behind their union banners to the Octagon, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers. The government resisted enforcing an eight-hour day, but did make Labour Day a public holiday in 1899.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-024831-F

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Public holidays - New Zealand’s special national holidays', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 April 2024)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 19 Apr 2023