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New Zealand in History
The colonisation of New Zealand
Dates marking post-colonial European history


1814 The Reverend Samuel Marsden, from the Church Missionary Society, conducted the first Christian religious service at the Bay of Islands.
1871 Birth of New Zealand scientist Ernest Rutherford.
1877 Education act passed, providing free compulsory education.
1888 Birth of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield.
1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote.
1896 Legislation passed, providing more effective protection for the homeless.
1898 Old Age Pensions Act. Persons over the age of 65 received a state funded pension. This Act marked the beginning of a non-contributory pension system.
1899 Labour day celebrations commemorate the the 8 hour day.
1901 On 12th September 1901 the Nurses Registration Act was passed, providing for the registration of trained nurses.



The legislation came into effect on 1st January 1902, leading New Zealand to become the first country in the world to regulate nurses nationally. On 10th January 1902 Ellen Dougherty became the first registered nurse in New Zealand, and in the world.

Thanks to Adèle Pentony-Graham, from the Carterton Districts Historical Society, in New Zealand, for the information on Ellen Dougherty. Adèle came across Ellen Dougherty's grave by chance. With the help of the New Zealand Nursing Council Ellen Dougherty's headstone was restored, and a rededication ceremony took place on January 10 2002.
A biography of Ellen Dougherty can be found at the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography website


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1903 Legislation, prohibiting children from smoking...
1907 Plunket Society formed. One of the aims of the Plunket Society was to train women for motherhood and household management.
  The aim was "to help make New Zealand children the healthiest in the world." Staffed by trained nurses and volunteers, the Plunket Society still operates today.
1911 Widows' Pensions introduced.
1920 School Dental Nursing Service introduced. Girl students were trained for limited dental treatment for school children.
  The service was second only to the introduction of fluoride. This new concept of dental health was subsequently taken up in overseas countries.
1924 Pensions for the blind introduced.
1926 Family Allowances Act passed.
1930 Legislation passed for relief of unemployment.
1933 Unemployment Act, financed by a special tax on all earnings (to promote employment, and provide relief for the jobless)
1935 Jean Batten, New Zealand born, became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia and back. She was also the first woman to fly solo across the South Atlantic Ocean.
1935 Labour Government elected, under the leadership of Michael Savage. Welfare services were introduced, the unemployed immediately benefited from a Christmas bonus of a week's pay.
  During a 13 year time span, the Labour Government constructed around 2.475 state houses per year. Rent was scaled according to income, and the Fair Rent act was passed
1936 Factories Amendment Act - reducing the manufacturing week to 40 hours
1946 Family benefit of £1 per week is made universal.
1953 Edmund Hillary (Sir) and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest


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Related Links
Important dates marking post-colonial Māori history
The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Extensive database of New Zealand biographies
Ernest Rutherford website
Timeline of events in New Zealand history
New Zealand world and national firsts
Commonwealth Games - New Zealand gold medallists timeline


 Please be aware that this website is a personal homepage. It would therefore be wise to cross check information which I have presented here. A list of many official New Zealand history sites may be found within my Links section.