Battle of Manners Street

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Battle of Manners Street
Date3 April 1943
Manners Street, Wellington, New Zealand

41°17′25″S 174°46′33″E / 41.2904°S 174.7757°E / -41.2904; 174.7757
Caused byU.S. Army soldiers refusal to allow entrance of New Zealand Army Māori soldiers to the Allied Services Club
MethodsRioting, race riots, protests, looting, attacks
Parties to the civil conflict
Death(s)0 confirmed, 2 possible Americans
InjuriesDozens in both sides
Arrested1 New Zealand serviceman
NZ Army minute describing the incident as a simple brawl between merchant seamen and servicemen

The Battle of Manners Street refers to a riot involving American servicemen and New Zealand servicemen and civilians outside the Allied Services Club in Manners Street, Te Aro, Wellington in 1943.[1] The club was a social centre, open to all military personnel.


In 1942–44 there were anywhere between 15,000 and 45,000 American servicemen stationed in New Zealand, most camped around major urban centres of the country.[2] While New Zealand was then an isolated country with 1.6 million inhabitants, many of the American servicemen were coming from major American urban centres to New Zealand.[2][clarification needed]


Some American servicemen in the Services Club objected to Māori soldiers also using the Club, and on 3 April 1943 began stopping Māori soldiers from entering. Many New Zealand soldiers in the area, both white (Pākehā) and Māori, combined in opposition. The stand-off escalated when Americans took off their belts to attack those who wanted to let the Māori in.[3] Fights broke out and at one point at least a thousand servicemen, as well as several hundreds of civilians, were involved in the subsequent fracas, which was broken up by civil and military police. The major brawl lasted from 6 pm to 8 pm, with some brawls lasting for perhaps another two hours. Dozens of people were injured. The fighting spread to the ANA (Army, Navy and Air Force) Club in Willis Street and to Cuba Street. At the time, hotel bars closed at 6 pm, the six o'clock swill, and inebriated patrons were then ejected into the streets.[4][5]

News of the riot was censored at the time,[by whom?] hence much of the mythology about the event,[citation needed] including the claim that two Americans were killed remain hard to verify.[1][4] Twenty years after the riot, the finding of the Court of Inquiry was released.[citation needed]

Other riots[edit]

Around the same time as the Battle of Manners Street a similar riot between American and New Zealand service men was taking place in Auckland and one month later during the Mayfair Cabaret, in Cuba Street, Wellington, on 12 May 1945 another riot took place.[1] Later in October a group of American servicemen and Māori civilians came to blows at Ōtaki in October 1943.[1]

See also[edit]




  • Banning, William (1988). Heritage Years: Second Marine Division Commemorative Anthology, 1940-1949, Volume 1 (1988 ed.). Turner Publishing Company. ISBN 9780938021582. - Total pages: 191
  • Francis, Clio (13 August 2011). "The battle of Manners St". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  • Hunt, Tom (3 April 2015). "Battle of Manners St: US wartime invasion had racist side". Retrieved May 4, 2019.
  • McLintock, A. H. (23 Apr 2009). "The Battle of Manners Street, Wellington, 1943". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  • Ministry for Culture and Heritage (5 Aug 2014). "US forces in New Zealand". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  • The Yanks are Coming: The American Invasion of New Zealand 1942-1944 by Harry Bioletti (1989, Century Hutchinson, Auckland) ISBN 1-86941-034-3
  • United States Forces in New Zealand 1942-1945 by Denys Bevan (1992, Macpherson Publishing, Alexandra) ISBN 0-908900-07-4