Tuesday, October 15, 2013

People's History talk: "Tatau tatau" vs "half-caste Maori" scabs

  • Date: 15 October, 2013
  • Time: 5.30pm – 7.00pm
  • Location: Tiakiwai Conference Centre, Lower ground floor, National Library building (use Aitken Street entrance).
Māori workers are largely absent from early twentieth-century New Zealand labour history. Commonly thought of as rural people, Māori are not mentioned in histories of organized urban craft workers and industrial unskilled workers who joined the socialist and syndicalist influenced New Zealand Federation of Labour in 1910.

Perusing the pages of the Maoriland Worker (the Federation of Labour newspaper) between 1910 and 1914, it appears Māori were subjects of political columns, union updates, and Red Fed organizing. Most striking is the figure of the half-caste Māori scab, who is demonized for endangering union organizing by their willingness to cross the picket line and join employer initiated arbitration unions.

Most regular in the pages of the Maoriland Worker is the Māori shearer, who unobtrusively is a member of the Shearers’ Union, has a Māori organizer, and is expected to become “one” with his or her Pakeha brothers and sisters in the “best interests” of the union. This talk analyses why there were such powerful differences between these two conceptions of Māori and focuses on shearing and mining work between 1910 and 1914.

Cybèle Locke is a history graduate of Otago and Auckland universities, who has published widely on labour history. Currently a lecturer in the History Programme at Victoria University of Wellington, she was a participant in the activist movements of the late twentieth century.

Part of a series of talks for the centenery of the 1913 Great Strike. Presented by the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, the Labour History Project and the Alexander Turnbull Library. Supported by the Maritime Union of New Zealand and the Rail & Maritime Transport Union.

More talks

October 1: Songs of work and workers and Sites of struggle
October 8: A century of remarkable women in the PSA
October 22: Reds & Wobblies
October 29: Dreadnoughts, Picture Palaces and Revolutionists
November 12: Savage, Fraser, Freyberg, Cullen
November 19: 1913: still relevant after all these years?

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