This feature was written by Simon Nathan with assistance from Margaret Hurst
(National Library of New Zealand), and produced by the NZHistory.net.nz team.
A note on sources
accessible, day-by-day account of the boycott is from the files of the Greymouth Evening Star. While this is
helpful in sorting out the chronology of events, the editor of the Star was clearly on the side of the
hotels. His editorials opposed the boycott and suggested that the boycott was
an example of malign communist forces.
A number of Working Men's Clubs (WMCs) had been
established in major urban areas since the late 19th century, but there were
none on the West Coast. The beer boycott provided a catalyst for new debate.
What would it take for West Coasters to boycott their beloved beer? Greymouth hotel-keepers found out in 1947, when an organised attempt to raise the price of beer sparked one of the most effective consumer boycotts ever seen in New Zealand.
Six p.m. closing of pubs was introduced as a 'temporary' wartime measure. It ushered in what became know as the 'six o'clock swill', as patrons aimed to drink their fill before closing time. The practice lasted for the next 50 years.