‘Without our brain and muscle not a single wheel will turn’
There are numerous Labour Museums throughout the world; museums which not only celebrate the role working people have played in creating the infrastructure and wealth of a nation, but also the part working people have played in creating society.
In New Zealand/Aotearoa, between the years 1875 and 1935, working people struggled for a political voice. The struggle went through various phases, from Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) union radicalism, to Communism, to parliamentary struggle. The struggle eventually brought to power the 1935 Labour government, which in the following decade, set in place a social democratic fabric which has become fundamental to the New Zealand way of life.
The small coal mining communities of the South Island's West Coast played a significant part in the early years of this struggle, and in the town of Blackball (22km from Greymouth), the 'cribtime strike' of 1908 triggered the formation of a national union structure. It is appropriate then that this should be the site of the Museum project.
The first physical structure for which we have gained finance has been the building of a Memorial/Resource Centre based around the '08 Strike. This has involved much voluntary labour from the local community; work at mate's rates from sculptors, Phill Rooke and Tony Manuel, Labour Historian, Mark Derby, the team at SIgn Displays and graphic designer, Jared Davidson; financial support from Development West Coast, Trust Power, Lion Foundation, Pub Charity, Blackadder Trust and Grey District Council; and donations from local companies, IPL, WestRoads, T. Croft and Ferguson Brothers.
With the establishing of the Memorial we have begun a programme of exhibitions, and each year, we celebrate Mayday with a day of political and cultural events. The schools programme is now developed and enquiries are welcome. A Labour Day picnic and Pike River Commemoration is also held.
The '08 Memorial is open at all times. The exhibition is open during winter, Wednesday to Sunday, 11.30am-4.00pm; summer, Monday to Sunday, 11.30am-4.00pm.
We invite you to peruse our past and present projects, contact us, visit the Memorial, and to become a friend and donor.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Maritime Union of NZ, theDairy Workers Union, First Union, the Tertiary Education Union, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union,Te Papa National Services, West Coast Community Trust and the Grey District Council.