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New Zealand Seamen's Union, Auckland Branch further records.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-91/3

Scope and Contents

Collection includes minutes, correspondence and membership records. Some of the minutes are copies relating to the stopwork meetings of other branches. There is considerable overlap with the earlier deposit at MSS & Archives D-8, so that the two collections need to be consulted together. This collection includes J.K. Kneen's manuscript History of the scab union: its formation and dissolution. This union was formed by shipowners during the 1913 waterfront dispute but lasted only briefly.

The material in this collection has been arranged using the system devised by Michael Coleman for MSS & Archives D-8. Conrad Bollinger has written in his note on sources in Against the wind : the story of the New Zealand Seamen's Union. Wellington, 1968: Throughout the book, extensive use has been made of the records held at the Wellington and Dunedin offices of the NZ Seamen's Union. These are an historian's dream with regard to their comprehensiveness, but a nightmare when it comes to arrangement. This seems to hold good for the records of the Auckland office.


  • 1897 - 1985


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted

Biographical / Historical

The New Zealand Seamen's Industrial Union of Workers was formed as the Federated Seamen's Union of New Zealand in 1880 with branches in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. After a strike in 1890, the Auckland Branch, lacking in leadership ceased to exist and was not re-established until 1897. In the interim a short lived Seamen's and Fireman's Union was formed under the guidance of the Auckland Trades Council.

In July 1913, the Union's General Secretary, W.T. Young, was elected President of the newly created United Federation of Labour. Right wing elements in the Union, notably in Auckland and Dunedin, were opposed to Young's association with Red Feds within the Federation and were able to prevent the union affiliating with the new association. With the outbreak of the waterfront dispute in October 1913, the Seamen's Union inevitably became involved, partly because of membership sympathy with the watersiders and because of Young's influence. During the dispute the ship-owners managed to get a scab Seamen's Union going in Auckland, the only one in the country. The Auckland Seamen's and Firemen's Union was formed in November 1913 and existed for about a year, after which its members were gradually absorbed by the Auckland Branch of the Seamen's Union.

In 1964 the Auckland Branch's long standing secretary, T. Anderson, who had been in office since 1917, died. Upon his death it was found that he had misappropriated Branch funds over a number of years.

In December 1989 the Union amalgamated with the Federated Cooks and Stewards of New Zealand and the North Shore Ferry Employees to form the New Zealand Seafarers Union.

Bollinger, Conrad. Against the wind; the story of the New Zealand Seamen's Union. New Zealand Seamen's Union, Wellington. 1968.


5.5 metres (9 cartons and 3 outsize items.)

Language of Materials



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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The core of this collection was donated to the Library between 1980-1985. 1915 correspondence and photograph (item 137), purchased at Bethunes Webbs auction, June 2005.

Related Materials

New Zealand Seamen's Union, Auckland Branch records - MSS & Archives D-8 and New Zealand Seamen's Union, Auckland Branch further records 1970s to 1991 - MSS & Archives 95/6. The latter also contains the records of the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand Federated Cooks and Stewards' Union for the period 1887-1990.

Inventory of the further records of the New Zealand Seamen's Union (Auckland Branch), 1897-1985.
Kay Stead
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand