Sonja Davies: 1923–2005

Chapter 12, The Nationbuilders. (This was published in 2000, and does not record that Sonja died in June 2005.)

Keywords: Labour Studies; Political Economy & History;

The choice of people to be included in this book is based on a list of over forty names. For reasons similar to those of The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, only dead nationbuilders were considered. There were a number of women in the list, but despite my trying – with a grim political correctness – none fitted into the story the book was telling. (For instance, Te Puea was building the Tainui nation.) It is, after all, but one story from all of those of the New Zealand nation. Those who saw early drafts often drew attention to the omission, but could not suggest a suitable candidate.

One explained to me it was because in the past women were so preoccupied with their husbands and children they did not have time. I thought that a nonsense, but explained to her, as I do later in this book, that one of the defects of the mid-century nationbuilding was that it was a boys’ thing, which largely excluded women (just as it was a white boys’ thing, so there was not much Maori involvement either). As the Epilogue argues, one of the reasons that nationbuilding could not withstand the onslaught after 1984 was that potential sources of resistance such as women and the Maori had ambiguous feelings about what they were asked to defend. If the next round of nationbuilding does not integrate women and Maori, and other minorities and strands of the nation, it will fail.

But there was another reason why there were to be no women nationbuilders in the book. There were some wonderful candidates but they were still alive.[1] They are women who had husbands and children and a lot more domestic life besides, and yet who contributed to nationbuilding, but with a different conception of nationhood. I will not bore readers with the account of how slowly I came to the conclusion that it would not be inappropriate to relax the selection rules to include one of these women. They will think it a better book for it allows the exploration of some issues more directly than would otherwise be possible.

Sonja Davies was born, about the same time as the other postwar nationbuilders, in Upper Hutt in 1923 (on Armistice Day as it happens – appropriately for a peace activist). Her mother thought she had an understanding with a man, but he reneged on it, apparently because he had an understanding with another woman back in Ireland. At a time when illegitimate children (as they were known) were almost invariably adopted, her mother kept her child and continued to work as a nurse. After the foster parents failed, she was taken over by her grandparents who gave her preschool stability, and the love and support which were the basis of her life. When she was five her mother married, and there were considerable tensions between stepfather and stepdaughter. Even so, the extended family was reasonably affluent middle-class, and despite being moved around the country and between family units and experiencing some early fostering, she had a not uncomfortable childhood, and was not greatly touched directly by the interwar depression.

Sonja – I am going to call her ‘Sonja’, because she did not acquire the name Davies until 1946, and in any case the decision leaves the reader to ponder on the significance of surnames for a woman of her generation – has Maori ancestors, although ‘in those days any Maori blood in the family was seldom, if ever, mentioned’.[2] At 46 she went to a whanau gathering which gave her ‘a sense of identity that was to change my life’.[3] She chose to leave school at fourteen, went through a number of jobs (it was the end of the Depression, and unlike Norman Kirk she was living in Wellington where prosperity came earlier), was married at seventeen and divorced not long after. By now it was wartime and she went into nursing training (by way of a brief spell at university, where in its tramping club she had met, among others, Henry Lang).

Sonja’s autobiography presents her youth as one of high spirits contrasting, say, with Douglas Robb’s, which portrays gravitas. In fact they were both feisty characters, both kept getting into scrapes, and both are fundamentally dignified people. Both had tuberculosis, Sonja catching hers during her nursing training. By today’s standards the medical establishment seemed quite unconcerned about the numerous staff who suffered this fate – even the meanest accountant would grumble of the subsequent treatment costs. For the ten years after 1945 Sonja’s life was dominated by visits to hospital for treatment and various strategies to reduce its effect. Just before its diagnosis she had a daughter to a US marine who died in the Pacific war, and whose early life of foster and family homes was not unlike her mother’s.

In this case the separation was more to do with preventing cross-infection. In 1946 Sonja married Charlie Davies, a returned serviceman whom she had known before he went overseas, and who proved to be a talented commercial and recreational landscape gardener (and husband). They moved to Nelson in the belief that the climate would be better for her lungs. Eventually Penny was able to join them, although the relationship between Penny and Charlie was much more loving than that between Sonja and her stepfather.

I want to pause for a paragraph, and reflect that I have had to include more personal detail of Sonja’s life than I did for any man. Yet in each of those particularities of marriage and pregnancy there was also a man. It is not just Sonja, for her autobiographies mention the lives of other women where it would be as important in their recounting to provide this detail. (A feature of her early life, and characteristic of other women of her generation, was just how little sex education was available.) And I have not listed – vivid though it is in the autobiography – the various episodes of sexual thoughtlessness and harassment (including an attempted rape in late pregnancy) that she and her fellow women experienced.

Sometimes the male reader of her biography has a sense that he is in a different country from that portrayed in the life accounts of the male nationbuilders. It is that sense I want to try to capture in this chapter, and yet to argue there has been some convergence, in which Sonja played an important role.

It took some time to get over the TB. To this day she has only a quarter of her lungs, although there is the toughness of steel in that apparently frail body. Shortly after the recovery she had Mark (and two painful ectopic pregnancies).

She had already come to public attention. The province of Nelson is one of those isolated parts of New Zealand, cut off by sea to the north and west, and by mountains to the south and east. (Today Nelson airport is the fifth busiest in New Zealand, although its city is not among the top ten.) There were ambitions to connect to the railroad network from the 1870s, but despite frequent promises from politicians, by the early 1950s the line south from Nelson had still not reached Murchison where it would have been connected to the main trunk line at Blenheim. In 1955 the National government announced it was going to close the railway. When the contractors moved in to start ripping up the lines, they found a group of women sitting on the tracks. The protest was lead by Ruth Page, a schoolteacher born in the first decade of the century. Sonja was a central part of the organising team. The demonstration, like most protests which arise from spontaneous local anger, had its bizarre elements (Page always wore a hat) and got national and international notice. The railway was nevertheless scrapped, although perhaps it is less necessary in the days of better roads and airways. Later Sonja was to protest over the closure of the Nelson cotton mill, clashing with both the National government and F. P. Walsh.

Sonja thinks she may have been born a dissenter. Certainly from an early age she showed a cussed independence – her parents were Presbyterians but she insisted on going to a high Anglican church. From her teens she got involved in union affairs, and in the peace movement, although during the war she was corresponding with both conscientious objectors and soldiers, which might reflect empathy overriding ideology. Because she was a woman, it was natural to ask how to improve their lot. In truth, like the other nationbuilders she was an activist, who was progressive rather than radical. Her apparent radicalism was a consequence of male misunderstanding of women.

By the early 1960s the activist was a justice of the peace (she kicked up a stink about the local practice of women JPs not doing court work), serving on the Nelson Hospital Board and the Nelson City Council, and deeply involved in the Nelson Labour Party (and later the national executive of the Labour Party) and also with numerous progressive local (and later national) organisations. Two deserve elaboration.

The peace movement is a long part of New Zealand’s heritage, including conscientious objection during both wars, and Riverside in Nelson, a Methodist community, not far from the Davies’ first home, which provided the family with support at critical times. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament started in the early 1960s, in imitation of the British organisation, but it soon developed distinctive features of its own, in part because the foreign model was not appropriate and New Zealand had its own preoccupations such as French testing in the Pacific. Because it was not trapped into a colonial subservience to an overseas model – unlike many of the local communist parties – the New Zealand peace movement was a nationbuilder. The world seemed a long way away geographically, and its ideological disputes seemed as irrelevant then as they seem today. The movement was not isolationist, but it saw there was no need to get embroiled in these ideological and imperial conflicts. Its demands included a nuclearfree South Pacific and the withdrawal of New Zealand from military pacts involving nuclear weapons, such as ANZUS and SEATO. Had the protesters been asked whether nuclear war or the fulfilment of these demands was the more likely by, say, the year 2000, most would have sadly predicted the former. The Cuban missile crisis nearly met their expectations, but today what were once outrageous policy demands are now in the core of the bipartisan New Zealand foreign policy. In between, CND metamorphosed into the campaign against military involvement in Vietnam, swelled by sympathisers who had thought its earlier goals were too ‘idealistic’ – practically unattainable.

The peace movement had community-wide involvement, but women were equal if not ahead in its leadership. (Sonja mentions the Christchurch-based national CND leadership of Mary Woodward and Elsie Locke. When it moved to Wellington, Shirley Smith became national secretary.) An historian of the nuclear disarmament movement, Lawrence Wittner, shrewdly observes that the male leaders were first famous in some other sphere, whereas ‘the fact that such talented women, in the years prior to their movement work, did not attain comparable eminence says a great deal about the discrimination against women in political and intellectual work of their time.’[4] Inevitably Sonja ended up as the secretary of the Nelson CND and an activist in the national movement. No doubt that strengthened her internationalism, although – extraordinarily, by contrast with the experiences of later generations and those of her contemporary male nationbuilders – she was 48 on the first occasion she went overseas. Sonja’s internationalism – her frequent support and involvement for overseas causes – demonstrates that nationalism need not be parochial. The point is it should not be subservient to the demands of other nations.

An important function of the anti-nuclear movement was that it enabled the older people, whose views of peace were formed in the 1930s and 1940s, to mentor the next generation. At home in Nelson Sonja was mentoring other young people by throwing her home open to them.

Her other major extra-political party activity was to found and be the first president of the New Zealand Association of Child Care Centres (now the New Zealand Childcare Association). Its origins may be attributed to the occasion when Don McKay, the minister of social security, grumbled to her that he was besieged by requests from individual child care centres, and suggested they should be ‘all joined together in one group. It would be easier for everyone.’[5] So they did. The ‘they’ were almost exclusively women (although Bill Sutch helped draw up the constitution). Despite a later widespread public misunderstanding these centres were not exclusively concerned with the children of working mothers in paid employment. Indeed the centre with which Sonja was originally involved was primarily a ‘swept-up shoppers’ creche’, although she was also concerned for 24-hour child care to deal with emergencies like a parent or child having to go into hospital. (Not every one has a friendly neighbour or a Riverside community.) Had one been betting on her destiny in the mid-1960s, the money would have been on a future career in Parliament. She was already on the Labour Party national executive, had stood for the marginal seat of Hastings in the no-swing election of 1966, and was a confidante of Norman Kirk, then party leader. Kirk, as has already been observed, was not strong on women’s issues. (He must have gritted his teeth when Sutch asked him to launch Women with a Cause, but such was the mana of the occasion he did it.) Sonja recalls that Labour’s 1972 election campaign strategy was devoid of references to women, so she lambasted the two MPs in charge of it. She even led a picket on the issue at the 1972 Labour Party conference, an especially heinous offence in an election year.

But her parliamentary prospects were already zero. Some years earlier she had warned Kirk of widespread rumours of alleged extra-marital affairs. He reacted strongly and never spoke civilly to her again. Since like so many institutionalised organisations in a hollow society, the Labour Party was hierarchically organised from the top, that put paid to that career path. The Labour Party’s loss was the unions’ gain. Charlie had given up self-employment and become a union organiser for a number of small unions, which could exist under the compulsory provisions of the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act (IC&A). A major coronary attack in 1968 meant he could no longer work. Sonja looked after his members for a while, and then the family moved to Hawke’s Bay, where she became an organiser for the local food processing and clerical workers’ unions. She re-entered the full-time paid labour force at 45, having been out of it for almost 25 years.

About the time Sonja was born, only 15 or so percent of the (paid) labour force were women. By the time she re-entered the proportion was closer to 30 percent. Today it is over 45 percent. However, women were less likely to be unionised, although the unionisation data does not seem to have been collected by gender. Moreover, the higher up the union hierarchy, the lower the proportion of women. Sonja records only seventeen women delegates at the 1973 conference of the Federation of Labour (FOL), out of a total of several hundred, and of course there were none on its executive at the time.

Men were wont to explain the low involvement of women in the higher levels of unionism as a result of their lack of interest (and some women were apathetic but, then, so were some men). Moreover women tended to be concentrated in particular sectors which were difficult to unionise – clerical workers and distribution workers – so their membership was particularly dependent upon the compulsory union provisions of the law. But it is also an example of the hollow society, in which top-down institutions are imposed which while beneficial to those at the top, are not necessarily relevant to the membership. Consequently the top is relatively unresponsive to change at the bottom. As female employment grew, women’s interests would lag in the priorities. Of course the unions said they were democratic. Some were, but as we saw with Walsh, some were not. Bastions of male dominance were not going to adapt quickly to the rise of women, unless there was a bulldozer. Enter Sonja Davies.

She had to learn the trade first. Charlie had taught her some, and then there was her Hawke’s Bay experience. James Wattie called her the ‘million dollar woman’ because she had forced his Hastings works, so he said, to spend a million dollars on worker amenities. In 1971 Charlie died from his heart condition. Shortly after Sonja moved to Wellington, at first to the Public Service Association, subsequently to the Wellington Shop Employees’ Union. By 1972 the union had become moribund, with 38 percent of its book membership unfinancial.

Membership apathy and uninspiring, inadequate or perhaps incompetent leadership were definitely factors. But the ‘arbitration system’ also played a part. The provisions of the IC&A Act, especially those governing union organisations, union preference and the provision of awards, meant that most unions in New Zealand were small, fragmented and lacked internal vitality.[6]

The union secretary was bundled out, to be replaced by Graham Kelly, who set about rebuilding the union. Because the majority of shop workers were women, he wanted women organisers. Sonja was an obvious choice. Two campaigns – the demand for equal pay for women (the legislation was passed by Labour in 1973) and opposition to the extension of shop trading hours (passed by National in 1977) – were particularly important, and involved her and the union intensively.

In Wellington, she lived in Brooklyn near the Plischkedesigned house of Sutch and his wife Shirley Smith (another pioneer for women, who kept her surname on marriage, an almost unthinkable act in 1944). They had first met in early 1962 when the Sutch and Smith were in Nelson (at the WEA camp where he used fishing to symbolise the political economy of New Zealand), and had called in on Sonja and introduced themselves. They kept in touch, and Sonja would go to Sutch for advice. They had bought some surrounding properties to put a drive onto the grounds, and they rented one of the cottages to Sonja. Wellington enabled her to better pursue her political interests, which were focused on women’s causes in and out of the union, together with internationalism.

Travelling in Israel in 1974 she conceived a New Zealand Working Women’s Council, and an Australian Conference in 1976 led to the conception of a Working Women’s Charter. Neither birth was an easy one. I tell the council formation story in her own words: it is August 1975 and she has finally set up a meeting with prime minister Bill Rowling, Arthur Faulkner who was the minister of labour (and one of those Sonja had lambasted in 1972 for the lack of women in the election strategy), the secretary for labour, and Tom Skinner and Jim Knox, president and secretary of the FOL.

It was no easy task to get such busy men together. . . . I outlined the proposals, only to hear Tom Skinner reply that, while he thought it an excellent idea, there were serious industrial problems which must take precedence. Bill Rowling said he, too, was concerned about those problems, but he felt that the Working Women’s Council was a positive scheme and deserved support. . . . When he asked me if $80,000 would help I nearly fell off my chair, but recovered and stammered, ‘Yes, we could do quite a lot with that.’ I went out into the brisk air in a state of euphoria.[7]

The Labour Party after Kirk was beginning to respond to women’s contemporary needs.[8] But the Council was funded from the top. What the Lord giveth, the Lord may take away. Or rather the electorate did. A few months later it elected a National government which would not provide further funding, arguing that such things were union not government responsibilities.

The Working Women’s Charter was more revolutionary in terms of disturbing the status quo. A major principle of community-based unions is ‘organise’, something which was not always necessary to run a union under the IC&A Act. So Sonja had to organise, relying on the vast network of women that she had been involved with over the years in such activities as the childcare movement, the Labour Party, local government, the peace movement, the union movement, and the women’s health network.[9] The men in this book also had networks, but typically they were elite ones involving a few hundred at the most, mainly of people living in Wellington, and normally in positions of power. The women’s network was more like the World Wide Web, a vast array of nodes (in this case women) with interconnections which cannot often be readily traced. Drawing on this, Sonja was able to involve unexpected numbers of women at the Trades Council discussions, and in 1980 the FOL adopted the charter, despite spirited opposition from a small but vociferous group who objected to some provisions on religious grounds.

Undoubtedly there would still be protest on the issue of fertility regulation. (Sonja ‘began the Charter Campaign feeling rather ambivalent on the question of abortion, and to this day I do not believe I could have had one myself. However I realised I had no right to decide for anyone else.’)[10] But the rest would, today, be considered as uncontentious as – say – a nuclear-free New Zealand.[11]

By now Sonja had been elected to the executive of the FOL – the first woman to be so – and three years later in 1981 she became its vice-president, meanwhile participating in such activities as equal pay reviews, the Equal Opportunities Tribunal, chairing the New Zealand International Year of Peace Committee in 1986, and the New Zealand Women’s Refuge Trust Foundation. Retirement from the FOL, which covered only private sector unions, came in 1987, when the public sector unions joined the peak organisation, renamed the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

But it was not retirement. Before the end of the year she was elected to the parliamentary seat of Pencarrow – Eastbourne, Hutt, Wainuiomata – to experience the worst six years of her working life. She was almost 64. In the 1960s the Labour Party had prohibited those over 57 from standing for the party for Parliament – it was rumoured this was to keep Sutch out of Parliament, although it is difficult to imagine him functioning well there. (The chosen age meant an MP would be under 60 when they retired.) The rule was replaced with a 67 age limit (i.e. retirement before 70) but her nomination was no easy matter. We need to scroll back to 1984.

The incoming Labour government under David Lange, but driven by minister of finance Roger Douglas, had adopted economic policies which were anathema to the majority of the Labour Party (and to most voters). In 1987 the party – in this case both the party hierarchy and its grassroots – attempted to pull back the rogernomes by ensuring as many of the new caucus members as possible were opposed to their policies. While the strategy was successful, the rogernomes, aware of the move, tried to thwart it.

The candidacy for Pencarrow involved a particularly vicious fight between Sonja and an old friend who had moved steadily towards favouring rogernomics (and returned to Britain to become, eventually, a press officer to John Major, and later the Queen).

While the Labour Party had succeeded in changing the balance of its parliamentary caucus, there were still insufficient ‘loyalists’ in caucus to stop the policies it detested. Especially when it is in government, a parliamentary party is hierarchically organised, where the top usually has sufficient patronage and influence to be able to maintain a majority in caucus by recruiting ideologically weaker members.

The incoming MPs, many like Sonja and Kelly (who had been elected for Porirua) battle-hardened in other venues, initially found the culture of Parliament bewildering. (In those days there were not even induction courses.) With the exception of Richard Northey (who had entered in 1984 and was an old friend from Sonja’s peace movement days), the established MPs did little to support them. Moreover, when it became a direct dispute between a minister backed by a team of public servants and bunch of junior caucus members, it was hard to find any (necessarily voluntary) expertise to balance the sheer firepower, irrespective of how wrong the minister was (and much that ministers argued, we know with hindsight, was wrong). The group face had principles, but there had been economic changes which meant the principles had to be applied differently. But they never had the time, nor the technical assistance, to work out the new applications. Policy was blitzkrieged through – sprung on the caucus and country without warning, and rushed through without consultation and before the resistance could organise. Sonja reports:

At 6.00 every morning I stood in the shower with Morning Report on the radio balanced on the handbasin, it seemed that I kept hearing yet another minister talking about an imminent sale of yet another state asset, and I would leap out, bruising my shin, because this was the first I heard of it.[12]

Graham [Kelly] and I fought the sale of assets in any way [we] could. [Richard] Prebble [the Minister for State Owned Enterprises] persuaded pro-economics people in caucus that this particular sale had to go through by twelve noon or New Zealand’s economy would be threatened. . . .[13]

The incoming MPs were torn between loyalty to the Labour Party as members of caucus, and to their Labour Party principles and constituents. All their adult lives they had been nurtured by the labour movement, where loyalty was important. If you lost a battle, you stayed on to fight again. Now Labour seemed to be betraying itself. They could have walked out as Jim Anderton did. Here is Sonja’s explanation why they did not:

In 1988, Graham and I made the first of two approaches to the general secretary of the Labour Party . . . and the president . . . and asked them if the Party would support us if we voted against further privatisation of state assets. They turned us down. [Much later, a Labour Party council member] said that with hindsight he felt we should have been supported.

When it came to the debate over the sale of the Bank of New Zealand our small group of . . . MPs collectively walked out of the House as the bells were ringing for the vote. We decided we would issue a press statement to oppose the sale. We went down to Graham’s office, locked the door and started on the press release. Some time later there was an urgent tapping at the door. It was the Senior Whip [who in 1996 left the Labour Caucus and joined the United Party, thus assisting the National government to remain in power in the runup to the election]. She asked what we were doing and we told her. She said, ‘the Prime Minister asked me to tell you that you’re to come back to the House immediately.’ We told her to tell him we would not come back, and we added ‘tell him we may never come back.’ We spent the rest of the evening wondering what on earth we could do to stem the tide.

In the end we decided once again to consult Labour people in our electorates. The advice of my people was that I should hang in there, and Graham received pretty much the same advice.[14]

This was the hollow society at its most authoritarian. Because the institutions of society – including the Labour caucus – were organised from the top, the community was unable to resist, although it protested. The caucus dissenters’ defiance has been forgotten in the political turmoil of the week which followed, when Lange sacked Douglas from cabinet. Perhaps their resistance stiffened Lange’s resolve. It influenced the future course of their party, although ironically they received little subsequent recognition. Of the core dissenters, four lost their seats in the 1990 landslide, Sonja and two others retired in the 1990s, and neither of the two still in the Labour caucus gained cabinet positions in 1999, even though some 1980s rogernomes did. (Anderton, who left the Labour caucus and started his own party, became deputy prime minister.)

Following the 1990 landslide, in which the Labour caucus was nearly halved, the enemy was now on the other side of the lines. It rolled back the welfare state while the Employment Contracts Act abandoned almost a hundred years of industrial relations development. Its passing was a strange affair. There was a constant reference to how the new act would enable employment to be managed in the manner of the recently established Fortex meat processing works which, it was said, had the industrial relations regime of the future. When the company went bankrupt, it turned out it had a high labour cost structure – not the low one the debate promised – and was kept solvent by a financial deception resulting in its managing director and general manager being jailed.[15] There were no quantifiable productivity gains in the national economy either. The National proponents made numerous promises of better outcomes which did not occur, yet never apologised for the failure of their predictions. (The record of the previous Labour government’s promises were no better.)

The Act’s impact on the union movement was more predictable. The union structure which Walsh had led, with horizontal (occupationally based) unions spanning many industries, was obsolete. The increasingly open economy needed vertical awards covering a single industry (or enterprise), which could respond flexibly to industry-specific shocks. The horizontal unions – most notably those involving clerical workers – resisted the CTU’s recommended union restructuring. The new act collapsed them, although in some cases the workers were incorporated into industry-based unions.[16] Even these industry-based unions found recruitment and retention much more difficult. In 1995 the National Distribution Union (the result of an amalgamation between unions representing shopworkers, storemen and packers, and drivers) had 22,000 members, a little more than half of its 36,000 in 1991.[17] Pay and conditions were cut too. Women workers suffered most.

In 1993 Sonja retired to a house in the Wairarapa, frail in body but robust in spirit, where she continues to be active gardening, writing and getting involved in politics as much as her circumstances allow – perhaps more so.

Sometime in early 1923, millions of spermatozoa competing to fertilise one human egg resulted in a child born nine months later. As luck would have it, the winner was carrying an X chromosome, so the baby was a girl, who would lead a very different life from the one a boy would have led. Scroll forward a hundred years and in 2023 the same thing will happen, except that the life course of the child will be less dependent upon whether that chromosome is X or Y. There will be differences – biology still matters. But the lessening of those differences will have been in part a result of the efforts of that woman born in 1923.

Go to top


[1] Elsie Locke died in April 2001, after the text was completed.

[2] Davies (1984), p.20.

[3] Davies (1984), p.173.

[4] L. Wittner (1997) Resisting the Bomb, Stanford, p.404.

[5] Davies (1984), p.143.

[6] K. Hince, K. Taylor, K. Peace & M. Biggs (1990) Opening Hours: History of the Wellington Shop Employees Union, Wellington, p.68.

[7] Davies (1984), p.296.

[8] For an account of this thawing see M. Shields, ‘Women in the Labour Party during the Kirk–Rowling Years’ in M. Clark (2001) Three Labour Leaders, Palmerston North.

[ 9] There is also a very extensive rural women’s network, but in this case it was probably not called upon.

[10] Davies (1984), p.302.

[11] T. Neary & J. Kelleher (1986) Neary: The Price of Principle, Auckland, pp.139–46.

[12] Davies (1997), p.69.

[13] Note to BHE, February 2001.

[14] Davies (1997), pp.78–9.

[15] B. H. Easton (1996) ‘Ex-Fortex,’ Listener, 18 May 1996, p.50.

[16] B. H. Easton (1997) The Commercialisation of New Zealand, Auckland, pp.122–31. For the clerical workers’ unions see P. Franks (1991) ‘The Employment Contracts Act and the demise of the New Zealand Clerical Workers Union’, NZ Journal of History, 28, 2, October pp.194–210.

[17] E. Dannin (1997) Working Free: The Origins and Impact of New Zealand’s Employment Contracts Act, Auckland, p.214.


Baysting, A., D. Campbell & M. Dagg (1993) Making Policy . . . Not Tea: Women in Parliament, Auckland. pp.9–11, 41–2, 71, 91–2, 137–9.

Coney, S. (1982) ‘The Davies Dossier’, Broadsheet, June 1982, p.31.

Davies, S. (1984) Bread and Roses, Auckland.

Davies, S. (1993) ‘The Corridors of Powerlessness,’ in S. Kedgley & M. Varnham (ed) Heading Nowhere in a Navy Blue Suit, Wellington.

Davies, S. (1997) Marching On, Wellington.

McCallum, J. (1993) Women in the House: Members of Parliament in New Zealand, Picton, pp.214–23.

Go to top