The Making Of A Scrapper: Keeping The Town’s Name on Queen’s Wharf



WHAT MAKES A SCAB? A Vigilante? A Massey’s Cossack? What is that drives a person to actively thwart the efforts of his neighbours to better their conditions of work? What makes a man wrap a scarf around his face, pick up piece of four-by-two, and head out into the darkness? Why would anyone sign-on as a “Special Constable” – deliberately strengthening the State’s hand in a fight it has picked with its own citizens?

The discovery, among a series of officially sanctioned installations dedicated to “The Many Lovers of Auckland” outside the refurbished Shed 10 on Auckland’s Queen’s Wharf, of a sculptural tribute and information panel dedicated to and celebrating the “contribution” of Jim Ross, one of the special constables responsible for breaking the Great Strike of 1913, has raised again the same troubling questions first asked exactly 100 years ago.

The offending installation is entitled “Who Loves A Scrap?”, and features the following lines from a poem printed in the “Specials” official newspaper The Camp Gazette:

From our homes in the back blocks of Auckland we came

To help down the strike and keep the town’s name.

Dubbed “Massey’s Cossacks” by the strikers, these many hundreds of special mounted constables were recruited at the behest of Prime Minister Bill Massey’s Reform Party Government from the viciously anti-worker members of the provocatively named Farmers “Union” (the forerunner of NZ Federated Farmers).

Auckland City Councillor, Mike Lee, a grandson of one of those strikers, wrote to “Council Controlled Organisation” Auckland Waterfront’s David Hebblethwaite, curator of the installations, expressing his anger and dismay:

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“The ugly episode that someone (you?) has bizarrely associated with ‘love’ and ‘a scrap’, was a time of widespread violence and hatred in New Zealand – a time like no other. Thousands of unionists and their families and supporters – the working people who lived in inner Auckland – were intimidated by massive repression. It was the nearest this country ever came to Fascism.

“I did not work so hard to open Queen’s Wharf to the public to see the unfortunate events of 100 years ago propagandised in this way. The bully with the menacing upraised club must go from Queen’s Wharf – and along with it the distorted and one-sided propaganda about those unhappy events.”

Hebblethwaite’s reply gave little indication that he grasped just how much offence the installation had occasioned among those who knew the story of the Great Strike.

Those questions: What makes a Scab? A Vigilante? A Massey’s Cossack? Remained.


AT THE HEART of all these strike-breaker’s actions lies a deep-seated fear of the power that grows from sources unrelated to position, tradition and violence. The scab, the vigilante, the Special Constable: all draw whatever self-worth they possess from the relationship they believe themselves to have with “legitimate” – socially sanctioned – power. Real or imagined, this relationship is critical to their definition of what society is, how it should work, and of their rightful place within it.

Those who challenge the powerful need to understand this. That in confronting authority they are also confronting everyone who identifies with it.

To the scab, personal advancement should be about the recognition, by those best positioned to observe it, of individual worth. The idea that people might improve their individual circumstances through collective action, and thereby advance together, is, from the scab’s perspective, a wicked perversion of the right order of things. It’s why he is able to cross a picket line without the slightest qualm. Far from committing an act of class treachery, he sees himself as the brave defender of the right of “free” labour to contract with whoever it pleases.

But scabbing is, essentially, a cowardly passive-aggressive act. Scabs are seldom prepared to assert their beliefs through overt acts of physical violence. In their moral universe the strikers are the “bad guys”; they are the “good guys”; and it is vital they remain in possession of the moral high ground. This is why, when there is a need for physical intimidation, the Scab is happy to rely upon the intervention of either the vigilante, or, if the latter cannot prevail, upon Massey’s 1,600 “Cossacks”.

For these strike-breakers, the self-assertion of the unionists and their supporters is an affront that can only be replied to adequately in the language of physical violence. The striking workers, like errant schoolboys, must be “taught a lesson”. Or, employing a more worrying metaphor, administered a dose of unpleasant “medicine”. The vigilante and the special constable, by this analogy, are acting as physicians in extremis, curing the social sickness of “socialism, syndicalism and anarchy” on behalf of an afflicted nation.

Here is what the editor of The Camp Gazette had to say in the paper’s second issue (Tuesday, 25 November 1913):

“Employers have for many years been living under a reign of terrorism at the hands of ‘Labour’ and it was quite an open secret that the employers would have sooner or later compromised with the enemy in this struggle by giving the customary sop, thus tiding over a critical period for another short spell.  These sops have been given for years, until the ‘poor working man’ has come to believe he can’t be done without. 

“In fact, the spoilt child of the family is in the same position as the great mass of ‘workers’ today.  This is not good for either the ‘child’ or the nation.  It has been left to ‘Mr Farmer’, however, to act as doctor for the patients, who are really in a bad way, and having diagnosed the case, he has decided that in the future, ‘Mr Worker’ is to be a good boy, take more exercise, eat less rich foods (simple diet is urged), and receive a good all-round wholesome justice in all his dealings with employers, instead of being spoon-fed.  Mr Farmer is also determined that the great farming interests must be respected, that the trade channels and ports shall be kept open, and that legislation in the future shall recognise that other interests than labour unions are to be considered.  Farmers, keep the grip you have!”

This is what makes a scab, a vigilante, a Massey’s Cossack: this willingness to serve “the great farming interests”; to keep his trade channels and his port open; and to bring to an end the “reign of terrorism” inflicted upon them at the hands of organised “Labour”.

Raised by the stern, unforgiving and often violent patriarchs of the Victorian Era, these country boys admired strength and despised weakness. Their world was defined by hierarchies: complex ladders in which ascent was effected by alternatively standing on the fingers of the person below you, and kissing the backside of the person above you.

No matter that the bank owned your father’s farm, and that his meagre herd of dairy cows was a wasting asset. Your father was a cockie and you were a cockie’s son. No uppity trade unionist was going to get away with disturbing the natural order of things. It was time for “Doctor Farmer” to mount up and ride!

As I wrote in No Left Turn:

“Reading The Camp Gazette, it is impossible not to be struck by the radicalism of the “Specials”. In their open contempt, not only for the strikers, but also for what they clearly regard as the craven urban bourgeoisie which had capitulated so often to their demands, there is the unmistakable whiff of fascism. Looking at the carefully posed photographs of these lads: young, confident, flaxen-haired; resplendent in their brown shirts and riding boots; batons in hand; it really is hard to tell whether they’re from Hamilton or Hamburg.”

And now they have a memorial on Queen’s Wharf.



  1. Chris, interesting article – this history should be well known.

    Do you know of any commemoration (as opposed to celebration) of the 100th anniversary of the strike and these incidents?

  2. “Their world was defined by hierarchies: complex ladders in which ascent was effected by alternatively standing on the fingers of the person below you, and kissing the backside of the person above you.”

    This is so relevant to the psychology of the political right, it deserves a commemorative plaque of its own.

  3. “I did not work so hard to open Queen’s Wharf to the public to see the unfortunate events of 100 years ago propagandised in this way. The bully with the menacing upraised club must go from Queen’s Wharf – and along with it the distorted and one-sided propaganda about those unhappy events.”

    On the positive flip-side, this provocative exhibition may serve to remind us of an ugly aspect of our past – complete with right-wing thugs who would do the Brown Shirts proud. Sometimes we need a bit of a reminder of our history and the vileness that simmers beneath our surface.

    As for scabs – the most recent example was Greg Ellis, and the so-called “New Zealand Actors’ Guild. It was a scab alternative to Actor’s Equity, and his website appears to be little more than a “cemetary” – only tumbleweeds rolling through the webpages are missing.

    But Ellis did his job; the puppet of Jackson, Warner Bros, and the Tories.

    • Putting a memorial to Cossacks who broke the strike of the Auckland wharfies and helped set up a scab union in 1913 is a provocation to today’s workers and the Labour Party which evolved out of the Federation of Labour formed in 1909.

      That FOL (called the ‘Red Fed’ because of its socialist principles) broke from the Arbitration Court because it refused to increase wages in 1908. The Miners Federation became the FOL and other unions like the wharfies, flaxworkers and shearers joined. Acting as free unions registered under the 1878 Trade Union Act. There was no prohibition on strikes and these workers gained better wages and conditions than under the Arbitration Court.

      Also formed in 1909 was the Reform Party led by Bill Massey a small farmer. Small farmers newly settled on land broken up by the Liberal Government in the 1890s and assisted by state loans became a new force for private property opposed to the more progressive wing of the Liberals who favoured state leaseholds over freehold. The prize of capital gain was the main route for the landless out of the working class.

      From 1910 the freeholders and business class behind Massey organised to force the FOL back into the Arbitration Court. It became the Government in 1912 and the first major fight was at the Waihi gold mines in 1912. The Waihi Miners Union joined the FOL in 1911 and won better wages and conditions. The mine owners used the Arbitration law to form a scab union imposing a wage cut on the FOL miners who where locked out until they agreed.

      For six months the miners held out supported by the FOL and overseas unions. Police, scabs and armed thugs attacked the locked out workers. George Evans was killed. 68 of the miners including all of their leaders were jailed for attempting to keep the scab union out of the mine.

      This dispute was a dress rehearsal for the 1913 strike which again began as a lockout this time of the Wellington Watersiders by the British shipowners who refused to employ men not in an arbitration union. Now the bosses were emboldened to smash the whole Red Fed and the newly formed Social Democratic party and force all workers into the Arbitration Court. Strikes in support of the locked out Watersiders spread around the country and were faced by police, armed scabs, the Cossacks, and even the army and navy (the latter with permission of the British crown).

      According to WB Sutch in ‘Poverty and Progress in NZ” p. 165;
      “Young farmers, ‘Massey’s Cossacks’, rode into the main ports as ‘specials’ to intimidate the strikers and the public, to form arbitration unions and take the place of watersiders and seamen…When police and specials took over the Auckland waterfront so that scab labour could work the ships, many other unions (including craft unions) struck in protest. There was almost a general strike in Auckland. Strike leaders were put in jail (there were 169 convictions); at the ports the Employers’ Federation formed new arbitration unions, often based on the young farmers were there partly for this purpose; the ports were worked by these people and other scabs; and the Supreme Court decided that arbitration unions could not contribute strike funds to another union. The arbitration unions formed by the employers were registered, and the watersiders told that if they wanted to work again on the wharves they must join these unions. By 20 December 1913 the strike was over, and Massey was able to give Waikato farmers medals for strike breaking.”

      In case anybody thinks that that episode can never be repeated it most certainly was in the 1951 lockout, and will inevitably again when organised labour stands up for its rights against the class that owns the means of production and controls the state to enforce its class rule.

      Whose side are you on?

  4. Re “Massey’s Cossacks” and the reason for people behaving in ways that are inhumane and de-humanising, yes also aggressively to others, there are various studies available that were done in places like for instance Los Angeles, California, and many years earlier in Sweden.

    They showed that under collective peer pressure, which can be initiated by any “leader” in a group, about 80 per cent of humans are capable and willing to commit acts against others, which they themselves would usually have found to be “wrong” before.

    Human beings are “social animals”, and hence prone to collective behaviour that can be “fascist” in nature, and they will go along with it, because they feel they better do so, as most others do the same. It is done out of a perceived need for “security”, for not wanting to dare stepping out of line.

    This APA article just gives a brief summary of what I mean:

    “Zimbardo noticed that in his own simulated jail experiment in 1971–the Stanford Prison Experiment–in which college students played the roles of prisoners or guards, and the guards became brutal and abusive toward prisoners after just six days, leading Zimbardo to prematurely end the experiment. The experiment showed that institutional forces and peer pressure led normal student volunteer guards to disregard the potential harm of their actions on the other student prisoners.

    “You don’t need a motive,” Zimbardo said. “All you really need is a situation that facilitates moving across that line of good and evil.””

    So it pays to be mindful of this, and that explains a lot of what is and has been going on in New Zealand, in the past, and especially also now, under this government.

    No wonder you have beneficiaries endure humiliation and worse, as they face the collective prejudice and discrimination all around them. Who dares to stand up against the majority, that has nothing much good to think and say of you?

    This is also what made leaders like Hitler succeed.

  5. When I first read about this memorial I thought it must have been a misunderstanding, or an exageration of the meaning of this symbol on the wharf.
    But no, I was shocked to discover, it is what is, a celebration of violence by those who can wield violence with impunity under the warrant of the state.

    As such it has a context and that context is marked by the location and timing of its erection.

    The message is not subtle, it is a threat.

    It is a threat to use violence again, if necessary, against those men and women who work on the wharves today.

    The message of the silent iron sentinel with raised baton is this:

    To the workers of the Ports of Auckland your dignified and peaceful strike actions last year delivered you a victory and defeated us.

    But we don’t suffer defeat gracefully.

    We are still determined to get rid of the Maritime Union from the wharf and replace them with non-union contract workers.

    This is our message to you, to let you know that we don’t accept defeat at your hands.

    We are determined to continue our program to de-unionise the waterfront, if you decide to resist us again, by taking any sort of industrial action, we retain the right to escalate the dispute and smash your picket lines and drive you from the wharves with unrestrained violence. If we so choose.

    The police and the courts and the media will back us, and laud us as heroes and you as villains. This is the meaning of our threat wrought in iron that we have placed at the entrance to your workplace.

    However, this overt but clumsy threat carries another, more subversive message. That the wealthy and powerful self titled; “Lovers of Auckland” are losing their legitimacy….

    And that they can be beaten.

  6. Thanks Chris, this post was an epiphany to me about the motivations of those who identify with power though it often damages their real interests. Hopefully the controversy will encourage some to think about our history studded as it is by repression and kowtowing. Not to mention the suffering of countless exploited animals.

      • Massey’s Cossacks happened. This explains to some extent the logic and thinking of those cossacks. It should be left uncovered for that reason, to better understand the different ideologies at play.

        Equally any statements from strikers shouldn’t be covered up.

  7. An effigy of a man with a club in a public place is a bizarre symbol of aggression I have to admit . It’s as if it was put there to inspire consternation and to invite dissent . And from Chris Trotters Post , it did .

    We all love to bag the dirty old cocky , The dirty old , animal abusing , Holden driving old cocky .

    But we don’t mind eating the flesh of the animals the dirty old cocky rears , nurtures and then supplies to super markets to charge you $24.00 a kg for when the best they can get is about $4.00 a kg . And as you slice down through that red seeping , well seasoned flesh with just a hint of hypocritical rosemary Dahling , a herb to make the barbaric and disgusting habit of flesh eating seem just that little more polite , do you think of Nu Zild without the slender profit making , massively debt burdened , dirty old cocky . No , of course not . It’s probably because the ‘he and/or she’ farmer isn’t there to kick you up your arse to remind you of how lucky you are .

    We don’t mind chocking down the meat and spuds as we hurrah the Men In Black and as our guts’ bloat to more than full of a Saturday , the dirty old cocky is still out there in the mud because the farmers lot is 24 hours a day , seven days a week , 365 days a year .

    The deeply disturbing thing for me about your latest farmer bashing diatribe is that it’s an indication that you are not as bright as I hoped you were Chris Trotter . Or far , far worse . You have a deep and dark agenda . ( Sorry , I’m angry . I’ll calm down in a minute )

    While not wanting to generalize , here’s the facts .

    Fact One .
    Historically , as can be seen to today , farmers are a miniscule voting minority . There are about fifty three thousand people deriving their sole income off the land today . Source Statistics NZ .

    Fact two .
    Because of the nature of farming , once you start up a farm , it becomes a slow moving , highly labour intensive , highly skill based juggernaut . Once you start one up , you can’t leave it alone for more than a few days and you just cannot hand it over to another crew while you take your weekends away . That makes farmers frighteningly easy to manipulate by adjusting interest rates , increasing taxes , changing tax laws and manipulating our trading partners .

    Fact three .
    Farmers earn your money . Oh yes they do . You may have your 8 to 5 thing going on but that’s like sticking your head in a plastic bag and breathing in your own air . It wouldn’t take that long for you to be fucked . You can have your La De Da office and your Oo Ah BMW but when was the last time you went hungry for say more than four hours ? Ring Lardner a writer of some fame once quipped ‘ I’ve known hunger . But then I went straight to a restaurant . ‘
    Have you ever asked yourself where all that easy credit comes from for you to be able to buy your ‘ consumer items ‘ . Do you think it comes from within the bag your breathing into ? Or do you think it might be debt leveraged against our Primary Industry . Ya know . Like farming ? Debt leveraged against you by your traitorous politicians to keep you under control lest you start thinking deeply about letters like this I might add .

    Fact four .
    The Strike Breaking Massey mob was a set up and he set up the farmers as if it were an episode of Boardwalk Empire . It was a page taken straight out of ‘The Art of War ‘ . Massey was at the dawn of a nice new idea on how to make many , many millions of pounds , now dollars without having to break one single bead of sweat digging paddocks , shearing sheep , milking cows etc . No blood , no shit , no worries mate .
    But first , you have to recognize the opportunity . Isn’t that like all successful entrepreneurs ? The greatest skill to possess , if you want to be entrepreneurial is the skill , or the gift of recognizing an opportunity .
    Was this a conversation that happened around 1911 ?
    ” We have a tiny population of people producing how much ! ? To export to the EU and we can get how much ? You gotta be fucking kidding me right ? And them cockies have no idea how valuable they are to the economy ? OMG ! Ooooh Martha I feel frisky at the thought of that !
    So , all we have to do is keep the cockies in the dark then pitch them against their service industry colleagues , like the watersiders , freezing workers , shearers , Shepherds and a raft of other contractors . Well , fuck ! That’ll be easy . We may have to entertain a few of their leaders at social functions but for that kind of money I’d swallow a spoon full of sheep shit then fuck the cocky under the dinner table . Martha ! Drop your panties and hide the silver ! We’re having farming leaders over for dinner . ( You will never believe just how close to the truth that previous paragraph was / is . )
    To go on ; ‘ Oooee ! That was quite the night ! Now , I wrote down some key elements as I was leaning in on a drunken conversation with another politician and a farming leader . Seems as though they’re being frightened by high costs , heavy taxes and the threat to doors closing on their traditional trading partners . Which we did to them of course . How else could I have been able to afford this mansion , that mansion , the vast tract of land down there and my house and lands dotted around the globe not to mention my numbered Swiss Bank Account . Seriously , don’t mention that . What we need is a ‘ producer board ‘ , to assuage their fear but we’ll structure the producer boards to ‘ reassign ‘ the money they earn as export revenue back out into ‘ the greater community ‘ for the benefit of all Nu Zilindirs . HAHAhahahahHAHAHAHAahaha HAHAHAHA AHAH! ! ! ! OH ! Wait , wait ? I can’t breath , I can’t breath ! HAW haw haw haw hahahahahahahaahaa hha ! ”
    Oh ! Hey wait seriously ? Lets do that with some of that money . It’ll stop people asking uncomfortable questions then once we build essential infrastructures we can sell them off and make billions again ! Ooooeee ! I like this . Martha ! Shave your arse ! I’m coming to bed “

    Fact five .
    No one ever likes to countenance the notion that a long time enemy might not in fact be an enemy after all . We all know that it’s much easier to start a Hate and it’s near damn impossible to stop one . ‘They’ know that too . Is that why that ugly thing’s there at Shed Ten ? It’s not ‘art’ . It’s a piece conceived by a commercial designer for a purpose IMO as you young people say . Farmers have no voice at all . They never have had one . The Water Front Strike was a tactical battle plan . It was armed by misinformation and administered by entrepreneurial individuals who spotted an alarmingly profitable opportunity to make a vast amount of money . The Farmers were as much the victims as were the watersiders . My father knew this very well which is why he started the new New Zealand Farmers Union Movement back in 1967 and invited our friends and associates , the watersiders , the railway workers , the freezing workers , the shearers and sundrie other Unions and contractors in from out in the cold after years of being manipulated and threatened by the same oligarch that manipulates and threatens us today . Farmers MUST become as one with the infrastructure they rely upon after the farm gate . Otherwise New Zealand will always struggle under the weight of a horrible lie . I could go on about the threats , lies and intimidation that was leveled against my dad and his followers by the government and it’s media lapdogs but that’s for another time .

    There needs to be an investigation and it needs minds , the likes of which are found here , to do the digging . The Farmer isn’t the enemy of the People . The People are not the enemy of the Farmer . So who is the enemy ? Who has the money ? They are our enemy . Know your enemy . We must find , and get to know and understand our enemy .

    I hate criticizing you Chirs Trotter . I have an enormous respect for you and your views but in this case you only have part of the story . The ugly part . We all only have part of the story and that is just one of the foundation stones for The Great New Zealand institutionalized Lie that holds up our house of cards .
    The Massey Mob was a terror attack and it would have been awful on both sides of the baton . But Oh the lovely money that came pouring in later for the few who orchestrated the massacre ?
    One more thing . To liken what happened 100 years ago on Aucklands water front to fascism and Hitler is absurd and you should stop it . Those kinds of erroneous , quick fix diagnostics will block the pathways to the truth , which is exactly what they want . We must be very , very careful of those who encourage us to bite the hand that feeds us . In this case , it’s literal . If you’re unsure of who your enemy is , then keep an open mind . There’s nothing as sure as a closed mind . Worse still , it makes the Thinker vulnerable to suggestion and we can see how that’s working out for us .

    • Your father was/is right Countryboy.

      Many of those farmers, in 1913, came from places where they could be a tenant farmer, yet rarely the landowner. Here, they could be both and they knew how much effort it was to break in the land, dodge the hard seasons and build up a flock or herd from scrubs. Townies did long days – not the sort of days a farmer did, though.

      And the townies came from places where time off on Sunday to go to church or chapel then the wonder of Sunday School to learn to read and write, after a week of sweatshop hours – well, they knew they worked hard for a pittance, too.

      Town had the advantage of proximity. People could get together by talking at work and gathering in the streets. Country couldn’t. The roads were appalling and bridges were rare.

      Two sets of people with very similar values – deeply conservative and independent. Willing to pay in sweat and talent to realise the dream of being free men and women in a land far from the entrenched class structures of ‘Home’.

      And the parcel of rogues who rose like scum to the top of the septic tank played on it. They and the upwardly mobile. They pretended to be like those who had come here to be free of hard graft that only enriched the landowners and factory owners. They played them for mugs.

      I don’t think I can see the present Labour Party, with its unusual ‘equality’ measures, fully grasping what working people are about – country or town.

      Respect to your dad for his vision, Countryboy.

    • Countryboy, I read your distress and anger!

      “The deeply disturbing thing for me about your latest farmer bashing diatribe is that it’s an indication that you are not as bright as I hoped you were Chris Trotter . Or far , far worse . You have a deep and dark agenda . ”

      By the way, I grew up on a farm myself, and I well know and understand where you are coming from.

      What Chris was presenting, maybe not in best literary expression and detail, is that we have had a society where groups fought each other for interests they had. It still applies very much to our situation today.

      Farming has never been easy, and has many risks associated with that business activity, no matter whether it is a family or personal business affair, or larger scale. Weather, prices for products, family and staffing issues all come to play.

      I think what Chris was trying to make clear, is that interests can and should be represented and defended in fair and reasonable ways, like sitting down and negotiating, which workers and employers should do, and mostly do.

      What happened at the times of Massey and farmers facing challenges then, may only partly have been due to the unions then defending their rights. There are always more aspects to consider, as there is more at play.

      I sense that Chris was trying to portray, how easily interest groups within society can be manipulated, can be led to think they are isolated, and then they decide to take actions that are and should not be tolerated under law. Going out to beat up, thrash and kill the opponent can hardly be called “fair play”.

      As farmers or offspring from farmers, we face some difficulties, as the population these days is almost totally urbanised. People in cities have little understanding what is involved in producing the goods they conveniently buy at supermarkets, while they expect the best quality and so forth. Farmers work 24/7 almost, and nobody in the cities would like to do a farmer’s job.

      Also many farmers have no understanding, or a dim view of urbanites, so we have division. It can hardly serve anybody to have serious division. I have for long thought that it would do urban school kids and students some real good, to spend parts of their holidays on farms, to learn what farming means, what still is the backbone of NZ’s economy, and what nature also provides and requires. I see actually that we will be forced to go back to nature, as the urban lifestyle of today is not sustainable and never will be.

      Some here will not accept it, but they need to do some learning, I feel.

      We are all flesh and blood, and bones, we are no different to the animals in nature and on farms, just as humans a bit “smarter” (you would hope, not always though). We are a bit privileged, but we are all mortals too.

      We all eat and need food, no doubt, whether vegetarian, vegan or meat eaters, or ideally a healthy mix.

      It is important that people learn about each other and appreciate each other, and learn to work together.

      Much of what Chris is about are systemic and political challenges, and this article is much about the past. Injustices and cruelty happened, but we should be wiser now, and I do not think Chris was basically attacking farmers in general, he wanted to express, how we should not fall for demonising each other, and rather sit down and talk, to work for a better society, that benefits all.

      That at least is what I believe also, and where I come from, we can all learn from each other and also need each other. Urbanites need to respect farmers, that are at least fair and also respectful, and farmers must learn to respect the ones living in cities.

      We actually have a different society now, where many farmer’s kids live in cities, even if it is just for doing studies or whatever. We sadly have not enough city dwellers familiar with farm environments, so there is something that needs to be done and improved. Workers, farmers and all others, we must work together and respect each other, that is the only solution, and Massey’s Cossacks was a theme and topic that showed only how that went very wrong in the past.

      Let us not repeat the past and learn from each other, to be fair and respectful, that is my view and message!

  8. @ Andrew . I agree . It is that too . We should should be stronger than that . I don’t like the trite thing but it should stay . Otherwise it’s just censorship . And fuck that .

  9. The best way to deal with this “art work” is to put right next, or opposite to it, a “socialist” “art work”, to “balance” the historic value and context perhaps. Think about that, any offers?

  10. Thanks for this Chris.
    The 1913 strike was, in reality, a series of strikes and one of the trigger events was the firing of 16 miners including their union delegates at Taupiri mine, on the Huntly field. The Huntly strikers who took action against the attack upon them, became key players in the events that followed.
    I recall as a child being told of these events by a ninety year old former miner Joseph Melling; how the town was eventually placed at the mercy of Massey’s strike breakers and his union run out of their ‘miners hall’ by the government sponsored ‘scab union.’
    The result was that the ability of the ordinary miners to protect themselves and their families was decimated. They were forced to return to the mines under lesser conditions. One of these was a reduction in health and safety standards.
    Less than a year later on September 9 1914, an explosion occurred at Ralph’s mine in Huntly. As it was a Saturday only 60 men were at work instead of the usual shift of 250. The explosion and the ensuing fire made the rescue mission incredibly difficult. Many of those who survived suffered terrible burns. 43 men died in that inferno and a later inquiry damned the owners for the lax safety conditions they had forced upon the miners. Ralph’s explosion remains our worst mining tragedy.

    Massey’s cossacks cannot be labelled lovers of country, nor even damned as bully boys or thugs. Their actions killed people and destroyed families.
    Young Joe Melling who was rostered off the morning when so many of his mates died, went on to become a staunch unionist and a lovely man. Your story Chris, reminded me of the hours I spent with him in the sixties when he was blind and mostly deaf but as sharp and militant as he had been in the wake of that awful explosion.
    Sadly, the destruction of the Miners Union in 1913 with its inevitable tragedy of 1914 have many parallels with the demise of the same union in the nineties and the fate of the 29 at Pike River.

  11. The fight never ends, many people died so we could vote, this tory government doesn’t help anyone to vote as their buddies know how to look after themselves, they need no incentive to vote, they already have one.

    Unions were nealy decimated by the contracts act, (thanks Ken Douglas) whenever anyone disparages unions, I always ask them who is out there to defend the rights of the working/unemployed class? No one but the Unions. I wansn’t alive when the farmers got in to bed with Massey and his minions, but it could happen again tomorrow, as for scabs, they are the worst traitors in the world in my opinion.

    Good stuff Christ Trotter, keep it up.

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