Skip to main content

Wilfred McAra collection relating to the building industry.

 Collection
Identifier: MSS &-Archives-D-10
The records in this collection relate mainly to McAra’s association with the Wellington Branch of the Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union between 1938 and 1946. They document his participation in the Branch’s Housing Committee, later known as the Building Investigation Committee, set up in May or June 1938, to investigate the growing housing shortage in New Zealand. The papers also cover McAra work as a paid organiser for the Carpenters and Joiners Union from April 1940.

However, the collection also includes material relating to McAra’s work with the State Placement Service, which from November 1938 included the investigation of the extent of the shortage of building artisans, reasons therefore and possible or practical remedial measures (Lewis to McAra, 28 Nov 1938, MSS & Archives A-139, item 1/8); and papers related to McAra’s role as a Union representative on the Labour Government’s Building Committee formed in January 1939.

This collection should be consulted in conjunction with MSS & Archives D-6: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to the New Zealand Building and Allied Trades Federation and MSS & Archives D-11: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to the building industry in New Zealand, as the three collections overlap chronologically and cover McAra’s involvement in a series of interwoven events.

Dates

  • 1938 - 1946

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted.

Extent

0.15 metre (1 box)

Overview

The records relate mainly to McAra’s association with the Wellington Branch of the Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union between 1938 and 1946. They document McAra’s participation in the Branch’s Housing Committee, later known as the Building Investigation Committee, established in 1938, to investigate the growing housing shortage in New Zealand.

Biographical / Historical

Introduction to the Collection In June 1938 McAra, at a meeting of the Wellington Carpenters Union proposed that a special sub-committee should be set up by the Union to investigate the building industry and the place of the worker within it. (Younger, 1975, p.55) The new Housing Committee had three members, Bill McAra, Wally Jamieson and W.J. Thompson. Secretarial assistance was provided by Jim Moulton the Union’s secretary, whose skills were made available to the committee as required. This arrangement can be seen in the records with the use of the Union’s letter head for the Committee’s correspondence which is usually signed by Moulton on behalf of the Committee.

With the outbreak of war, the introduction of Emergency Regulations and fears over wages and conditions, it was decided to expand the Housing Committee’s terms of reference. Representatives of other related trade unions were invited to join the Committee and many did (see folder 3/1). By November 1939 the committee represented almost all of the building trades in Wellington and its name was changed to the Wellington Building Investigation Committee. (Younger, 1975, p.65).

It was at meetings of this committee in early 1940 that the idea of a united organisation to represent members of the building industry in discussions with the Government and The Federation of Labour was put forward. The idea was agreed upon at the meeting and McAra and Moulton were given the task of drafting a set of rules for the new organisation. These provisional rules were read and accepted at a meeting on 27 March 1940 and the New Zealand Building and Allied Trades Federation was born. McAra was elected Chairman; Peter Butler, Vice Chairman and Jim Moulton Secretary. The members of the existing Building Investigations Committee it was agreed would act as the provisional executive council of the new Federation, however the Building Investigation Committee was not wound up at this time but continued to operate independently in addition to running the Building and Allied Trades Federation until April 1940.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were donated in 1969 by Wilfred (Bill) McAra and as with many of the other McAra series were arranged by Michael Colman during the early 1970’s although an inventory does not appear to have been compiled at that time.

These papers were used extensively by Hugh Younger for his Master’s thesis The spirit of militancy, an examination of the New Zealand Building and Allied Trades Federation 1940 – 1943. For this reason the basic chronological arrangement of the records has not been substantially changed during the preparation of this inventory, although some folders have been split due to their unwieldy size. Where items have been split they have been assigned a two part number to reflect this division.

Related Materials

The University of Auckland holds a number of other collections which contain the papers of Wilfred McAra these include:

MSS & Archives A-9: Communist Party of New Zealand records, 1924 – 1972.

MSS & Archives A-139: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers, 1913 - 1970.

MSS & Archives 94/4: Wilfred (Bill) McAra, papers 1929 – 1988.

MSS & Archives 89/25: Wilfred (Bill) McAra and Diana Wilsie papers, 1965 – 1977.

MSS & Archives D-5: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to industrial relations on the New Zealand waterfront, 1946 – 1953.

MSS & Archives D-6: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to the New Zealand Building and Allied Trades Federation, 1939 – 1945.

MSS & Archives D-11: Wilfred (Bill) McAra papers relating to the building industry in New Zealand.

  • Younger, H. (Hugh Younger). The spirit of militancy: an examination of the New Zealand Building and Allied Trades Federation, 1940 – 1943. Thesis (MA History) University of Auckland, 1974.
Title
Inventory of the Wilfred McAra collection relating to the building industry.
Status
completed
Author
Special Collections
Date
2012
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, The University of Auckland Repository

Contact:
5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand