Stir, bustle and whir! : a history of the New Zealand Clothing Factory, 1873-1905
Isaac, Penelope Sheila
INTRODUCTION This essay has two purposes: to trace the history of New Zealand's first and for a long time largest clothing factory; and to investigate within the context of this case study the working of the labour process in nineteenth century New Zealand. The Hallenstein Brothers' New Zealand Clothing Factory was New Zealand's first clothing factory and for a long time one of the country's biggest employers of women. This essay is by no means an attempt to recount the factory's total history. Instead, it provides the case study for an investigation into the working of the labour process in New Zealand in the nineteenth century. The ideas in this work are the result of an attempt to use historical research to test the existing theories on the debate over labour process. As far as the sources allow, the labour process in the Hallenstein Brothers' clothing factory before 1900 is examined and its activities placed within the broader social and economic context of its time. Chapter One discusses the theory of labour process, in particular the works of Harry Braverman and William Lazonick. The empirical research is used to test the theory. The major strands of the debate on labour process are explained in their historiographical context, and the colonial economic and social context that was New Zealand in the late nineteenth century are then examined. Chapter Two begins with an overview of the establishment of the firm and the people behind its inception sketching the context for Chapter Three, an analysis of the labour process in the New Zealand Clothing Factory. Factory organisation and management, layout and technology and the subdivision of labour emerge as key themes in the production process. Feminisation of the workplace is also evident in a factory made up predominantly of female workers. Workers and wages are the subject matter for the fourth chapter, which takes a closer look at who the workers in the factory were, and looks at the wage structure. This chapter also assesses the workers' attitudes and responses to changes in the labour process. The final chapter investigates the New Zealand Clothing Factory's occupational health and safety record, as this relates in an important sense to the labour process. The working environment is recalled, and state legislation affecting this environment is assessed. The concluding chapter summarises the findings. How the labour process operated and changed in the New Zealand Clothing Factory, the relationship between the workers and management, the impact of technology and the impact of the colonial gender order are assessed. Also considered are the consequences of establishment in a young and ambitious country determined to avoid the evils of the Old World. The analytical method is historical. The resultant analysis is by no means the whole story. However, it does provide an insider's view of the labour process in the New Zealand Clothing Factory in the period from 1873 to 1905. The case study provides an interesting illustration of the dynamic interaction between the forces and relations of production in one colonial factory. It should be noted at this stage that the Hallenstein Brothers' New Zealand Clothing Factory is by no means representative of all New Zealand clothing factories. On the contrary, as the 'sweating scandal' of 1889 exposed, the Hallensteins' factory was an exceptional example.
Advisor: Olssen, Erik
Degree Name: Bachelor of Arts with Honours
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Dissertation
74 leaves :ill., map, port. ; 30 cm. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 71-74). Typescript (photocopy).