The Labour Day weekend falls onto the 4th Monday in October. The day
commemorates workers' rights to an eight hour working day.
The fact that this public holiday falls on a Monday makes this a popular long weekend. Warm spring weather and the official opening of the swimming season encourage many to take a short break with a weekend get away.
The first anniversary of the Maritime Council, that organised transport and mining unions was the day chosen to honour an eight hour working day as Labour Day. The anniversary took first place on October 28 in 1890 in Wellington the capital of New Zealand. Guest to the celebration ceremony was 'the father of the eight hours movement', Samuel Duncan Parnell.
Early Labour Days highlighted parades with floats followed by picnics and sport events. Unions used the getting together to give all workers in industries with still longer working hours like farm, sea, hotel, shop, restaurant a voice for their rights to an eight hour day. 'The Labour Day Act of 1899', under the Liberals advanced the Labour Day into a statutory public holiday that took effect first in October 1900 on the second Wednesday. In 1910 the Labour Day, one of New Zealand public holidays, was ‘Mondayised’ and moved to the 4th Monday in October promoting with the Labour Day an extended weekend.
Undisputed Samuel Parnell received recognition to have been the thriving power behind dividing a working day in thirds, 8 hours to work, 8 hours to sleep, and 8 hours for personal use and leisure.
Parnell, born in London in 1910 arrived in Wellington on Petone Beach in February 1840 with his wife. His interest in dividing a day in 3 parts was already given birth to in England.
In New Zealand it was one of his first ideas he set into reality. His professional skill of carpentry was sought after, therefore his clients settled to his conditions, starting work at 8 am and finishing work at 5pm against any known practise. Usually trades people worked 12 to 14 hours a day. While this idea faced controversial opinions, Parnell was seeking supporters under immigrating tradesmen arriving at the harbour. These efforts boosted New Zealand into the position to become the first country with an eight hours day for people of the trade. Parnell lived to take his place as a guest of honour on the first Labour Day celebration on the 28 October in 1890, after which he died only some weeks later in December. As a labour reformer he was put to rest with a public funeral in the Wellington public cemetery.
Today suburbs and streets carry his name in memory to his achievements in reforming labour rights and thus influencing Labour Law New Zealand and securing his place in New Zealand history. One example is 'Parnell Village', reached by following 'Parnell Rise' and then 'Parnell Road'. It is part of Auckland City and one of its wealthiest communities.