Labour History

“The Military Strike is Now On!” A History of the Passive Resisters Union, 1912–14

Labour History (2014), 107, (1), 1–20.


The Passive Resisters Union (PRU) was a short lived, but highly effective anti-militarist group that opposed compulsory military training (CMT) in the years immediately preceding World War I. While the organisation has received scholarly attention for its involvement in New Zealand’s first anti-militarist movement, its integral role to the achievements of that movement has not been considered in any depth. This article seeks to address this oversight by placing the organisation into its historical context, outlining the tactics that set it apart from the rest of the movement and detailing the Union’s effectiveness at responding to the state’s increasingly punitive measures to enforce universal compliance with the training scheme. In turn, the article demonstrates that the success achieved by the anti-CMT movement rested on the shoulders of a group of young men who banded together under the banner of the PRU to oppose the coercive mechanisms of the state.

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Author details

Bodman, Ryan