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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Parnell, Samuel Duncan

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Parnell, Samuel Duncan, generally regarded as the originator of the Eight Hours Movement in New Zealand, and probably in Australasia, was a native of England, and was born in Feb. 1810. So far back as 1884, while working at his trade in London, he was impressed with the idea of agitating for shortening the hours of labour, and when he landed at the infant settlement of Port Nicholson, New Zealand, early in 1840, his first employment, that of constructing a wooden house, was begun under the stipulation that eight hours should be a day's work for himself and his fellow-workmen. Within a few years an attempt was made to increase the length of the working day; but the men interested, navvies working on the Hutt road from Wellington, struck work until the original eight-hours' plan was reverted to. From that date to the present time eight hours has been the recognised day's labour for Wellington tradesmen. Mr. Parnell died on Dec. 17th, 1890, and his funeral was attended by the members of the Ministry as well as by a procession of the Trades.