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Auckland Boilermakers' Union records.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-2014/13

Scope and Contents

The entire collection covers the period 1921 to 2010 however, the majority of records are concentrated around the period 1950 to 1990. Included are series of minutes, correspondence and related papers, newspaper clippings, realia and subject files.


  • 1921 - 2010


Conditions Governing Access

PARTLY RESTRICTED – Permission of the Special Collections Manager is required for access to all records less than 30 years old. Access to material over 30 years old is unrestricted, except where records are restricted for reasons of confidentiality and privacy. These items are restricted for a period of 70 years from the date of creation, and are indicated in the inventory.

Administrative History

The Auckland Boilermakers' Union was first established in 1890 as the Auckland District Boilermakers Iron Ship Workers & Bridge Builders. It was one of four regional Boilermaker Unions which were established between 1880-1890, including Dunedin, Wellington and Canterbury. The Auckland Union disappeared soon after 1890 but re-appeared in 1907 with 35 members, as a registered union under the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894. They were officially known as the Auckland District Boilermakers, Structural Metal Fabricators & Assemblers, Metal Ship & Bridge Builders, but more commonly as the Auckland Boilermakers' Union (ABU), and operated in the Northern Industrial District.

By 1975 their numbers had increased to 1021 members. Although this was relatively small in comparison to the national average of union membership at the time, with half of their members located in the central Auckland area this allowed for the Auckland Boilermakers' Union to operate more effectively compared with unions whose members were distributed widely. In 1969 a number of sub-branches were established to support the administration of the Auckland Boilermakers' Union and included Hamilton, Whangarei, Tokoroa, Rotorua and Tauranga.

Although Auckland's membership was relatively small they formed a strong, well mobilised union and along with the Wellington branch they became infamous for what was seen as a hard line and militant approach. This was evident in a number of disputes with large companies such as Marsden Point Refinery, Huntly Power Station Project and Mason Bros Engineering. The Auckland Boilermakers' Union at times clashed with other unions over demarcation disputes, particularly the New Zealand Engineering Union whose members often carried out similar work. Such action was viewed as disruptive to the industry and at times would culminate in the threat of de-registration from the Minister of Labour.

In 1988 the Auckland Boilermakers' Union registration was cancelled after their amalgamation with the New Zealand (with exceptions) Shipwrights & Boatbuilders, Moulders, Coachworkers, Boilermakers, Pulp & Paper Workers & Optical Technicians Union, later known as the Manufacturing & Construction Workers Union.


Garden, A. (1977). Boilermakers and the Benney Decision (A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree Master of Philosophy in Economics). University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Harbridge, R., & Hince, K. (1994). A sourcebook of New Zealand trade union and employee organisations. Wellington, N.Z. : Industrial Relations Centre, Victoria University of Wellington.

New Zealand Federation of Labour. (1993). Official trade union directory. Wellington : Author.


3 metres (5 boxes + 2 outsize items)

Language of Materials



In off-site storage. Expect delay of 12-24 hours from time of order.


This collection was donated to the University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services in June 2014 by Alexander Turnbull Library. It was originally thought to be material from the New Zealand Federated Boilermakers' Association but was transferred to the University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services when it was found to relate to the Auckland Boilermakers' Union instead.

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand