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Our Story – The 1947 Beer Boycott

In the 1940s beer was the staple drink of working men on the West Coast, and the price of booze and cigarettes was always a matter of local contention. Until 1947, when an organised move by local hotels to raise the price from six penny to seven led to one of the most effective consumer boycotts ever seen in New Zealand. Miners, forestry workers and the like refused to drink at any of the local hotels, and labourers caught at one of the establishments were shunned by their peers. The men then kicked it up notch and went on strike. This resulted in a nationwide coal shortage, forcing the government to intervene. After a four a half month boycott the publicans caved and the original price was restored. It was a sign of the power that determined consumers and organised labour could wield.

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