Queen Street riot

Post and Telegraph Association

The PSA was keen to distance itself from the Queen Street riot that broke out on April 14 1932. An announcement in large, bold type in the April issue of the Public Service Journal asserted that the PSA had never had anything to do with any outside labour organisations.


As members of the PTEA (Post and Telegraph Association) marched up Queen Street on April 14 to a meeting at the Auckland Town Hall to protest wage cuts, they were joined by thousands of unemployed people.  Unable to fit into the Town Hall, the unemployed milled around outside, watched by police.  When popular leader Jim Edwards rose to urge the crowd not to start anything, he was struck down by a policeman.  What followed was over three hours of rioting.  Over 200 people were injured, many shop windows in Queen Street were smashed and stock was looted.  The unemployed were largely not responsible for the looting; rather other opportunists took advantage of the chaos.

Meanwhile, seemingly unaware of the rioting outside, the PTEA meeting continued.  A resolution was passed calling for the government to either reverse its current policy of cutting wages or resign.

(Sources: Auckland Star, 15 April 1932, pp. 6, 8-9; Evening Post, 15 April 1932, pp. 6, 8; Public Service Journal, XIX(4), April 1932)

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