Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

War Economy

Accommodation for Directed Workers

Accommodation for Directed Workers

When direction of a worker involved a change in location, there was often difficulty in finding suitable living accommodation, and in some areas the Government had to meet the situation by providing hostels. Towards the middle of 1942 a number of the women workers directed to essential industry in the Wellington area were unable to find lodgings. The National Service Department wrote:1

‘Particular difficulty was encountered during 1942 and 1943 in directing female workers to employment in munitions and other essential industries, particularly in the Hutt Valley. Shortage of accommodation in this area was acute, and the Department found it necessary to establish several hostels for workers in essential industries. The first of these was constructed at Woburn, Lower Hutt, by arrangement with the Housing Department in 1943, and was designed to accommodate some 360 girls who, for the most part, comprised girls directed to munitions employment in Petone.’

Camps, which came to be known as Defence Workers' Camps, were provided for men in the Wellington district. The first was constructed to meet accommodation problems when men were brought into Wellington for the urgent repair of damage caused by earthquake in June 1942. Camps to accommodate 120 men were erected at Rongotai, Wakefield Park, and on the Basin Reserve, and were quite well run, except that there was some laxity in collecting the value of board from the men or their employers.2

The earthquake damage work was mainly chimney repairs. As this work eased off, men were drafted to defence construction in and around Wellington. Several additional workers' camps were erected in Wellington and in the Hutt Valley, and there were soon nearly a dozen camps in the Wellington area, providing accommodation in all for about 800 men. These camps remained in operation to meet the peak of defence construction work, but went out of use as this work tapered off. By the middle of 1944 only three camps remained, catering for some 460 men. In the later war years, other war workers were admitted to the camps, as well as technical

1 Parliamentary Paper H-11a, Report of the National Service Department, 1945, p. 42.

2 Official War History of the Public Works Department, Vol. IV, p. 797.

page 455 trainees with the Rehabilitation Department. Camps were also set up in Auckland, chiefly to accommodate men directed to employment in freezing works.

There was some criticism of the management of hostels and camps. In particular, there were complaints about delays in providing equipment and essential facilities in some of the women's hostels. But the hostels and camps provided a reasonable standard of accommodation, and played a most important part in facilitating the direction of labour to localities where it was most urgently needed.

After the war, the National Service Department became the National Employment Service, and retained a number of camps for its more general peacetime work of assisting towards full employment. In its 1946 annual report,1 it listed the following camps as in operation at 31 March:

Auckland district –
Waikaraka Park Camps 220
Avondale Camp 220
Wellington district –
Naenae Camp, Lower Hutt 300
Hataitai Camp, Wellington 220
Woburn Hostel, Lower Hutt 264
Orient Hostel, Wellington 80
Public Service Hostel, Wellington 98

1 Parliamentary Paper H-11a, p. 66.