The waterfront dispute of 1951 was the biggest industrial confrontation in New Zealand’s history. Although it was not as violent as the Great Strike of 1913, it lasted longer – for five months, from February to July – and involved more workers. At its peak, 22,000 waterside workers (‘wharfies’) and other unionists were off the job.
After more than a year on the run in northern Italy, New Zealand prisoner of war David Russell was recaptured and executed. His courage in the face of death earned him the first George Cross awarded to a member of New Zealand’s military.