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Scarves on Statues – The Gold Miner

[Previous instalments in the ‘Scarves on Statues’ series can be found here]

Gold was discovered in what is now the town of Waihi in 1878, and since that time, hundreds of tons of gold and silver have been extracted from the Coromandel hillside. The Martha mine has over its 130+ year lifetime been responsible for pumping vast sums of money into the local and national economy, but at a price. It has also been responsible for the deaths of many workers from machinery accidents and in the early days, many more from a dreaded ailment called phthisis, a disease caused by dust on the lungs.

It was due to workforce discontent at the poor safety of the mine, that this became the site of one of the most important industrial disputes in New Zealand history – the 1912 miner’s strike, which was itself responsible for a terrible fatality when police and strike breakers beat a striking miner by the name of Fred Evans to death.

Out of the ashes of that bitter dispute, a struggle that the unions lost, came a New Zealand labour movement determined to seek political office as an alternative way to force change alongside strike action, their only weapon up until that point. They formed the New Zealand Social Democratic Party, which in 1916 morphed into what we now know as our country’s oldest political party, the New Zealand Labour Party.

What can we learn from this? Well, I guess the most important lesson is that losing can be good for you. Defeat forces you to rethink, plan, scheme, and it hardens your resolve to not only learn from your mistakes and do better next time, but most importantly it can give you the fire in your heart you need to build something with the requisite determination so that it can one day be looked back upon as an enduring and positive legacy for the ages.

Miner

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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