Month Calendar View

Historic NZ events in August

Aug

1

Māori becomes official language

1987 Māori becomes official language

The Maori Language Act came into force, meaning that te reo Māori could now be used in some legal proceedings. The Act also established the Maori Language Commission. Read more...

Aug

2

Barbara Kendall wins gold at Barcelona

1992 Barbara Kendall wins gold at Barcelona

Barbara Kendall became the sole New Zealand gold medallist at the Olympic Games in Barcelona when she won the windsurfing competition. Read more...

Protest as USS Texas visits Auckland

1983 Protest as USS Texas visits Auckland

The visit sparked anti-nuclear rallies on land and sea. Nuclear ship visits became an election issue in 1984 and they were later banned by David Lange's Labour government. Read more...

Aug

3

Finnish barque Pamir seized as war prize

1941 Finnish barque Pamir seized as war prize

Following its arrival in Wellington on July 29, the Pamir was seized as Finland was deemed to be 'territory in enemy occupation'. The ship sailed under the New Zealand ensign until 1948. Read more...

Anthony Trollope arrives for NZ tour

1872 Anthony Trollope arrives for NZ tour

Anthony Trollope, one of the Victorian era’s most famous novelists, landed at Bluff at the start of a two-month tour of New Zealand. Read more...

Aug

4

Ōtira rail tunnel opened

1923 Ōtira rail tunnel opened

The 8.5-km Ōtira tunnel, which pierced the Southern Alps and linked Christchurch with Greymouth, was formally opened by Prime Minister William Massey. At the time it was the longest tunnel in the southern hemisphere, the longest in the British Empire, and the sixth-longest in the world. Read more...

Cook Islands achieve self-government

1965 Cook Islands achieve self-government

First included within the boundaries of New Zealand in 1901, the islands were governed by a Resident Commissioner until 1946. Despite gaining self-government, Cook Islanders remained New Zealand citizens.

Read more...

Aug

5

New Zealand enters the First World War

1914 New Zealand enters the First World War

New Zealand received the news of the outbreak of war just before 1 p.m. on 5 August. At 3 p.m. the Governor, Lord Liverpool, announced the news from the steps of Parliament to a large and enthusiastic crowd. Read more...

Cartwright Report condemns cervical cancer treatment

1988 Cartwright Report condemns cervical cancer treatment

The report was triggered by Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle's Metro article, 'An Unfortunate Experiment'. Published in June 1987, this claimed that dozens of cervical cancer patients at National Women's Hospital were receiving inadequate treatment. Read more...

Aug

6

Lovelock wins 1500-m gold at Berlin

1936 Lovelock wins 1500-m gold at Berlin

Jack Lovelock won New Zealand's first Olympic athletics gold medal before Adolf Hitler and a crowd of 110,000 at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He led the 1500-m field home in a world record time of 3:47.8.

Read more...

Aug

7

First train runs length of main trunk line

1908 First train runs length of main trunk line

The 'Parliament Special' travelled over a makeshift track in the central section of the still-unfinished main trunk line. It carried MPs north to greet the American navy's 'Great White Fleet'. Read more...

Beatrice Faumuina wins athletics world championship gold

1997 Beatrice Faumuina wins athletics world championship gold

Beatrice Faumuina became the first New Zealander to win an event at a World Athletics Championships when she threw the discus 66.82 m at Athens in 1997. Read more...

Aug

8

Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair

1915 Wellington Battalion captures Chunuk Bair

Led by Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone, this attack was one of the high points of the New Zealand effort at Gallipoli.

Read more...

Aug

9

US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland

1908 US 'Great White Fleet' arrives in Auckland

The arrival of the 16 American battleships under the command of Admiral C.S. Sperry was greeted with much pomp and ceremony. An extensive programme of 'fleet week' entertainment was put on for the 14,000 sailors.

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George Nepia plays last All Blacks test

1930 George Nepia plays last All Blacks test

Nepia was one of the stars of the 1924-5 All Blacks, playing in all 32 matches on the team's tour of the British Isles, France and Canada. He played the last of his nine tests in 1930, against the British Lions.

Read more...

Aug

10

British assert sovereignty as French head for Akaroa

1840 British assert sovereignty as French head for Akaroa

HMS Britomart arrived at Akaroa, on Banks Peninsula, a week before a shipload of French colonists landed. The ship's captain raised the Union Jack to confirm British sovereignty over the area. Read more...

Aug

11

Picton ferry <em>Aramoana</em> enters service

1962 Picton ferry Aramoana enters service

The country's first roll-on roll-off ferry, New Zealand Railways' Aramoana revolutionised transport between the North and South islands.

Read more...

Aug

12

Baby-farmer Minnie Dean hanged

1895 Baby-farmer Minnie Dean hanged

In 1895 Minnie Dean became the first (and only) woman to be hanged by law in New Zealand. Known as the 'Winton baby farmer', she had been convicted of the murder of baby Dorothy Edith Carter after a sensational trial in Invercargill. Read more...

John Walker breaks world mile record

1975 John Walker breaks world mile record

John Walker became history’s first sub-3:50 miler on 12 August, running 3:49.4 at Gothenburg, Sweden. Read more...

Aug

13

Death of David Lange

2005 Death of David Lange

David Lange was New Zealand's youngest prime minister during the 20th century. Renowned for his sharp wit and oratory, he is best remembered as leader of the fourth Labour government from 1984 to 1989. Read more...

Aug

14

Women's vote petitions presented to Parliament

1891 Women's vote petitions presented to Parliament

These petitions, signed by 9000 women, contributed to the introduction of a Female Suffrage Bill in Parliament. But while this received majority support in the House of Representatives, it was defeated in the Legislative Council.

Read more...

Aug

15

The war is over!  VJ Day

1945 The war is over! VJ Day

Japan's surrender following the atomic explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the Second World War. More than 200,000 New Zealanders had served during the war and more than 11,500 had died.

Read more...

Troop ship Wahine wrecked en route to Korean War

1951 Troop ship Wahine wrecked en route to Korean War

Carrying New Zealand troops to the Korean War, the 38-year-old Lyttelton–Wellington ferry Wahine ran aground in the Arafura Sea. There were no casualties but the ship became a total loss.

Read more...

Aug

16

Evers-Swindell twins defend Olympic rowing title at Beijing

2008 Evers-Swindell twins defend Olympic rowing title at Beijing

Few expected blond identical twins Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell to successfully defend the double sculls title they had won in Athens in 2004. Read more...

CORSO formed

1944 CORSO formed

CORSO was set up to support aid efforts in war-torn nations. It became increasingly involved in the developing world and also spoke out about poverty in New Zealand. Read more...

Aug

17

Attack on the <em>Nino Bixio</em>

1942 Attack on the Nino Bixio

118 New Zealand prisoners of war died when the Italian transport ship Nino Bixio was torpedoed in the Mediterranean Sea by a British submarine. Read more...

NZ Company ship Tory arrives

1839 NZ Company ship Tory arrives

The New Zealand Company party, which included William Wakefield and his nephew Jerningham, was sent to make preparations for organised settlement.

Read more...

Aug

18

20-year old hanged for murder

1955 20-year old hanged for murder

Edward Te Whiu was one of the last four people executed in New Zealand. He admitted to killing 75-year-old widow Florence Smith, but his underprivileged background and childlike mental state led some to question the appropriateness of the death penalty.

Read more...

Deadline for Vietnam pull-out announced

1971 Deadline for Vietnam pull-out announced

Prime Minister Keith Holyoake’s announcement to Parliament that New Zealand’s combat force would be withdrawn before the end of the year coincided with a similar announcement by the Australian government.

Read more...

Aug

19

Kiwi pilot's sacrifice saves French village

1944 Kiwi pilot's sacrifice saves French village

As his damaged Hawker Typhoon fighter-bomber rapidly lost height, Pilot Officer James Stellin struggled to avoid crashing into Saint-Maclou-la-Brière, a village of 370 people. He succeeded, but at the cost of his own life. The villagers gave him a hero’s funeral and have honoured his memory ever since. Read more...

Wakefield elected to Parliament

1853 Wakefield elected to Parliament

The brains behind the New Zealand Company was elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Hutt. Having only arrived in February, he was quick to lobby for the introduction of responsible government.

Read more...

Aug

20

<em>Turakina</em> sunk by German raider in Tasman

1940 Turakina sunk by German raider in Tasman

It was the Tasman Sea's first naval battle. The New Zealand Shipping Company freighter Turakina was intercepted and sunk by the Orion nearly 500 km off the Taranaki coast with the loss of 36 lives. Twenty survivors were taken prisoner. Read more...

Aug

21

Auckland pedestrians begin 'Barnes Dance'

1958 Auckland pedestrians begin 'Barnes Dance'

Auckland became the first city in New Zealand to introduce the ‘Barnes Dance’ street-crossing system, which stopped all traffic and allowed pedestrians to cross intersections in every direction at the same time. Read more...

Aug

22

First 'Young Farmer of the Year' chosen

1969 First 'Young Farmer of the Year' chosen

Held at the South Pacific Hotel in Auckland, this competition was open to all members of the Young Farmers' Club. The inaugural winner was Gary Fraser from Swannanoa, near Christchurch. The contest has since become an established part of the farming calendar.

Read more...

Aug

23

Writer Robin Hyde dies in London

1939 Writer Robin Hyde dies in London

The journalist, poet and novelist, born Iris Wilkinson, was one of New Zealand's finest inter-war writers. Troubled by depression, illness and poverty, she took her own life in London.

Read more...

Assisted immigration resumes after war

1947 Assisted immigration resumes after war

Between 1947 and 1975, 77,000 women, children and men arrived from Great Britain under the assisted immigration scheme. The first draft of 118 immigrants arrived in Auckland on the New Zealand Shipping Company liner Rangitata.

Read more...

Aug

24

Wellington steam-tram service opened

1878 Wellington steam-tram service opened

The Governor, the Marquess of Normanby, opened the new service, reportedly the first to operate in the Southern Hemisphere. The unpopular steam-powered trams were later replaced by horse-drawn trams.

Read more...

Aug

25

First New Zealand soldier executed

1916 First New Zealand soldier executed

After being found guilty of desertion, 28-year-old Private Frank Hughes was shot by firing squad in the French village of Hallencourt. He was the first New Zealand soldier executed during the First World War. Read more...

First flight across Cook Strait

1920 First flight across Cook Strait

Captain Euan Dickson completed the first air crossing of Cook Strait, flying a 110-hp La Rhone Avros from Christchurch to Upper Hutt, and carrying the first air mail between the North and South Islands. Read more...

Killer twister hits Frankton

1948 Killer twister hits Frankton

Three people were killed and about 150 houses and buildings damaged by New Zealand's deadliest recorded tornado. Damage was estimated at more than £1 million.

Read more...

Aug

26

New Zealand Coat of Arms warranted

1911 New Zealand Coat of Arms warranted

On this day King George V signed the Royal Warrant assigning the first New Zealand Coat of Arms. The Warrant was published in the New Zealand Gazette on 11 January 1912.

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Death of second Māori King

1894 Death of second Māori King

As the second Māori King, Tāwhiao had led his people through the traumatic period of the wars of the 1860s. He was succeeded by his son Mahuta.

Read more...

Submarine telegraph line laid across Cook Strait

1866 Submarine telegraph line laid across Cook Strait

After two bungled attempts and near disaster at sea, the first communications cable between the North and South Islands of New Zealand was completed on 26 August 1866. Read more...

Aug

27

Pawelka's last prison break

1911 Pawelka's last prison break

Joseph Pawelka escaped from Wellington's Terrace Gaol. It was the last in a series of bold but seemingly effortless prison escapes he made over a period of 18 months. Read more...

Foundation stone for Victoria’s first building laid

1904 Foundation stone for Victoria’s first building laid

Victoria College (now Victoria University of Wellington) was founded in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria's 60th jubilee. Until the opening of the Kelburn building in 1906, classes were taught in rented accommodation.

Read more...

Aug

28

'Heavenly Creatures' found guilty of murder

1954 'Heavenly Creatures' found guilty of murder

Pauline Parker, aged 16, and Juliet Hulme, 15, were convicted of the murder of Pauline's mother Honora at Christchurch on 22 June. Their story was later the subject of Peter Jackson's film Heavenly Creatures.

Read more...

Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

1992 Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

Cantabrians awoke to find their region blanketed in snow. ‘The Big Snow', as the 1992 storm came to be known, was the region's worst for 30 years, killing more than a million sheep and costing farmers $40 million.

Read more...

Aug

29

NZ force captures German Samoa

1914 NZ force captures German Samoa

Colonel Robert Logan led a 1374-strong expeditionary force to capture German Samoa (afterwards renamed Western Samoa). The Germans stationed there were in no position to offer resistance.

Read more...

Aug

30

Four killed by Rotorua geyser

1903 Four killed by Rotorua geyser

Guide Joseph Warbrick and three tourists were killed instantly when Waimangu geyser, then one of the largest and most active in the world, erupted unexpectedly.

Read more...

Kawarau Falls dam becomes operational

1926 Kawarau Falls dam becomes operational

Hundreds attended the opening ceremony for a dam above the Kawarau Falls which was to temporarily block the outlet from Lake Wakatipu and hopefully expose gold-bearing rock to prospectors. Read more...

Aug

31

The wreck of the <em>Sophia Pate</em>

1841 The wreck of the Sophia Pate

The fate of the brig Sophia Pate, wrecked on a sandbar at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour with the loss of 21 lives, highlighted the dangers early migrants to New Zealand faced in poorly charted coastal waters.

Read more...

Arbitration Act becomes law

1894 Arbitration Act becomes law

The brainchild of Liberal Minister of Labour William Pember Reeves, the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act made New Zealand the first country in the world to outlaw strikes in favour of compulsory arbitration.  Read more...

Death of Norman Kirk

1974 Death of Norman Kirk

Leader of the Labour Party since 1965 and Prime Minister from late 1972, 'Big Norm' died suddenly at the age of 51. He was the fifth New Zealand PM to die in office. Read more...