New Date: 2007 New Zealand police raids

Recently a reader contacted us, stating that our timeline is missing a significant 2007 event. We agree, and thus we have included draft text below.

2007 New Zealand police raids in Urewera

On 15 October 2007 armed police carried out raids throughout the North Island, arresting 17 political activists. Police claimed they had arrested participants in a terrorist training camp in the Urewera region. In September 2011 firearms charges were dropped against 13 of the defendants. In February 2012 four stood trial on various charges but were convicted only on firearms charges. The case remains controversial, as some members of the public claim that police used the fear of terrorism to suppress genuine political dissent.

To find out more:

Beath, L. Terrorism and counter-terrorism – Securing New Zealand against terrorism. In Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from:


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New Date: Wreck of the SS Ventnor

For many New Zealanders, the story of the SS Ventnor was unknown until its discovery off the coast of Hikianga two years ago. Following this event, details have surfaced surrounding the shipwreck that place it as a significant historical event. The Institute will be doing further research into this event and including it in the next Nation Dates edition. Our draft text follows:

1902 Wreck of the SS Ventnor

On 27 October, a day after leaving Wellington, the Ventnor struck a reef off the coast of Taranaki near New Plymouth, and the following day it foundered off the coast of the Hokianga Heads. The ship had set out for China with the bones of 499 Chinese men who had died in New Zealand, and the wreck caused distress as culturally it is essential for Chinese people to have their graves tended by their family. The local iwi Te Roroa have confirmed that their ancestors buried the bodies that washed ashore.

To find out more:

Dougan, P. (2014, November 14). Outrage over ‘lack of respect’ shown to Ventnor shipwreck. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from:

Dougan, P. (2014, November 19). 112-year-old SS Ventnor shipwreck mystery revealed. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from:

Ventnor Group. The Wreck of the SS Ventnor: History. Retrieved June 19, 2015 from:

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SATRS Conference

At the St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society (SATRS) conference on August 1 we gave a copy of the McGuinness Institute’s Nation Dates: Significant events that have shaped the nation of New Zealand, Second Edition and EmpowerNZ’s Draft Constitution for the 21st Century to all attendees.

The Institute will be writing a third edition of Nation Dates next year and we welcome any suggestions. If there are significant events that you think should be added, please leave a comment on this post.

Big thanks for all your help,


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New date: Council for Volunteer Service Abroad

During the McGuinness Institute’s recent TalentNZ Tour, we were fortunate to meet many interesting people. Not only did we hear some great ideas about how New Zealand can build a talent-based economy, but also some great suggestions for Nation Dates – including the addition of a new date: the creation of the Council for Volunteer Service abroad in 1962.

1962: Council for Volunteer Service Abroad 
The Council’s purpose is to send volunteers abroad on two-year assignments to places in need of aid. The Council is established in 1962, after a meeting attended by representatives from 30 organisations.

To find out more:

Gully, J. S. (1966). Volunteer Service Abroad. In Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved April 16, 2014: from:

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New date: Eleanor Catton wins Man Booker Prize

Here at the Institute we were excited to hear about Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize success and we think it could potentially be a great date to include in the third edition of Nation Dates.

2013 Eleanor Catton wins Man Booker Prize

Eleanor Catton becomes the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries – the longest book ever to win the award. The only other New Zealand novel to receive the prize is Keri Hulme’s The Bone People in 1985.

To find out more:

Kiwi Eleanor Catton wins Man Booker Prize. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 11 November, 2013 from:

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New dates: Education

With the launch of the Institute’s TalentNZ Initiative, education has been very much at the forefront of our thinking. The development of our education system is an important story in our history; one that has affected all New Zealanders. Listed below are some potential dates we have identified to add to Thread 52 (Education and knowledge) in the third edition of Nation Dates.

1870 The University of New Zealand founded

The University of New Zealand is established under the University of New Zealand Act 1870. The University is the degree-granting body for all New Zealand universities. With the exception of the University of Otago which retains its name, the universities are known as ‘university colleges’ and include what would later become the universities of Auckland, Canterbury and Victoria. The University of New Zealand is disestablished in 1961.

To find out more:

University of Otago. History and governance of the University of Otago. Retrieved 11 November, 2013 from:

Victoria University of Wellington. Victoria’s history. Retrieved 11 November, 2013 from:

University of Auckland. Our history. Retirieved 11 November 2013 from:

1877 Education Act

The Act introduces New Zealand’s first free and compulsory national system of primary education. Approximately 730 schools are administered by regional education boards, 78% are rural with only one or two teachers.

To find out more:

Swarbrick, N. Country schooling – Getting an education: 1800s. In Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 November, 2013 from:

1914 Education Act

The act introduces free secondary education for all those who pass a proficiency exam – known as the ‘free place system’. The system limits the previous autonomy of the secondary schools, as growing student numbers increase reliance on the central department for grants and the requirements of the entrance exam result in the beginnings of a standardised curriculum.

To find out more:

McLintock, A. H. Education evolution of present system: A new Education Act. In Te Ara –the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved

1930 Atmore Report published

Written by the Minister for Education, Harry Atmore, the Report aims to create an egalitarian education system. The reforms include the raising of the school leaving age to 15, the establishment of intermediate schools, abolition of scholarship entry to post-primary school and the expansion of the secondary syllabus beyond university entry requirements. The Report also endorses a single national teaching service and equal pay for men and women.

To find out more:

Tunnicliff, S. Atmore, Harry. In Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 November 2013 from:

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New date: First Agent-General appointed

Dalziel’s fascinating book The Origins of New Zealand Diplomacy has an abundance of interesting information about early government in New Zealand. We found the information about the position of Agent-General particularly interesting.

1871 First Agent-General appointed

The Agent-General is New Zealand’s first permanent overseas representative. There are five Agent-Generals between 1871 and 1905, including Isaac Earl Featherston, Sir Julius Vogel, Frances Dillon Bell, Westby Brook Perceval and William Pember Reeves. In 1905 the title is changed to High Commissioner. (Dalziel, 1975: 13)

Dalziel, R. M. (1975). The origins of New Zealand diplomacy, p. 13. Wellington: Victoria University Press.

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2013 significant events

Identifying how an event will be historically significant can be difficult when it is initially unfolding. However, considering current events within an historical framework can be useful for understanding their potential impacts. With this in mind, we have been taking note of some of this year’s key events for possible inclusion into the next edition of Nation Dates:

April: Same sex marriage legalised

The Marriage Amendment Act 2013, which legalises same sex marriage is passed 77 votes to 44.

July: Immigration Amendment Act 2013 passed

The new legislation aims to deter people smuggling. However there are concerns, as the new legislation will allow the court to detain groups of 10 or more people, which some see as a breech of civil rights.

August: Fonterra botulism scare

Tests carried out by AgResearch suggest that botulism causing bacteria are present in whey protein produced by dairy giant Fonterra. The whey protein is commonly used in infant formula and the scare causes some trading partners to block New Zealand dairy products. Further tests by the Ministry for Primary Industries reveal that the initial tests were inaccurate.

August:  David Shearer resigns as Labour leader

David Shearer steps down from his position as leader of the Labour party, as he does not believe that he has the full confidence of the caucus. In order to elect a new leader Labour has adopted a new model, where the voting ratio has been split 40% caucus, 40% members and 20% unions.

August: Government Communications Security Bureau and related legislation Bill passed

The controversial bill is passed in the house by two votes. The new legislation extends the powers of the SIS and military to gather data on New Zealand citizens. This had been illegal under the previous legislation.

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Meeting with Simon O’Connor and Dr Sean Palmer

It is always great to hear feedback on Nation Dates and we were very fortunate to receive feedback from MP Simon O’Connor and Dr Sean Palmer, who had read Nation Dates and had some interesting comments and suggestions for our third edition. Of particular interest was the suggestion of two great new dates:

1987 The Order of New Zealand introduced
Signalling the establishment of a uniquely New Zealand Honours System, the Order of New Zealand is the highest honour that can be awarded to a New Zealander. It is awarded to recognise outstanding service to the people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity. It is a single-class order, restricted to 20 living citizens. An important feature of the medal is that it must be returned to the Crown on the recipient’s death in order to be passed on to a new recipient.

1999 Victoria Cross for New Zealand introduced
The award is introduced to create a New Zealand equivalent to the British Victoria Cross. It is the highest of eight awards for gallantry and bravery introduced in 1999, replacing the 20 British gallantry and bravery awards. In 2007 Corporal Bill (Willie) Apiata becomes the first recipient of the Victoria Cross for New Zealand for his ‘personal courage under fire’ while serving in Afghanistan in 2004.

Although Miriam White (co-author of Nation Dates) is no longer at the Institute, her sister Grace attended the meeting with me and is now working at the Institute full-time. Version three is a long way off, possibly 2015, however, please keep those dates rolling in. In the meantime we are working on Nation Voices, which Niki Lomax and I hope to publish at the end of this year



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Nation Dates featured in New Zealand Nature

We were happy to see the second edition of Nation Dates feature in the 2013 Maruia catalogue produced by the New Zealand Nature Company. NZ Nature is a Nelson based company dedicated to providing a range of products to customers with a growing interest in sustainability.

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