Huntly rail bridge bombing

The Huntly rail bridge bombing occurred on the Glen Afton (or Awaroa) Branch, near Huntly, New Zealand on 30 April 1951.[1] The bombing took place amid the 1951 New Zealand waterfront dispute, an industrial dispute over the working conditions and wages of dockworkers. Characterised by the-then Prime Minister Sidney Holland as an act of terrorism, the bombing caused no casualties but disrupted the supply of coal from nearby coal mines. The perpetrators remain unknown.

Bombing and resultEdit

In 1951, during the New Zealand waterfront dispute and strike, a bomb detonated near the Huntly rail bridge, resulting in its demolition (according to contemporary New Zealand reports). The Huntly rail bridge linked four open-cast mines and several pits in the Waikato coalfields with the Huntly township and the railway line,[2] so its demolition was intended to disrupt coal supplies.[2][3]

Train drivers were warned beforehand, so there were zero injuries or casualties.[4] The attacks are thought to have been carried out by coal miners operating without the knowledge or support of the trade unions involved in the industrial actions.[4]

Possibly due to reporting restrictions at the time,[5] there have been conflicting reports. Two Australian reports say that a passenger train crossed the bridge about four hours after the explosion. They also say the bridge wasn't destroyed, but that piles and stringers were damaged by six dynamite shots,[6] which failed to destroy it because they were against the grain of the wood.[7] It has been speculated that the charges were carefully misplaced with the intention only of warning open-cast miners who were working.[8]


Prime Minister Sidney Holland denounced the bombing, calling it an "infamous act of terrorism".[1] Holland announced an investigation, but the identities of the perpetrators were never discovered.[9] However, it has been argued that the act was one of sabotage, rather than terrorism.[4] The probable target was property and the intention was the disruption of supplies, rather than achieving a political aim through terror.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Division and defeat – The 1951 waterfront dispute". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b Richardson, Len (1995). Coal, Class & Community: The United Mineworkers of New Zealand, 1880–1960. Auckland University Press. p. 291. ISBN 9781869401139. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  3. ^ Gunaratna, Rohan; Kam, Stefanie (2016). Handbook of Terrorism in the Asia–Pacific. World Scientific. p. 608. ISBN 9781783269976. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Beath, Lance (20 June 2012). "Terrorism and counter-terrorism – Terrorism and New Zealand: the historical background". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  5. ^ " – Connecting People Through News". Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  6. ^ "SABOTEURS DYNAMITE RAIL BRIDGE – Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954) – 1 May 1951". Trove. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Attempt Made to Blow Up Railway Bridge – Fiendish Act in New Zealand | TRACK DOWN CRIMINALS – Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 – 1954) – 1 May 1951". Trove. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  8. ^ Bassett, Michael (1972). Confrontation '51: the 1951 Waterfront Dispute. Wellington: Reed. p. 169.
  9. ^ Battersby, John (2018). "Terrorism Where Terror Isn't: Australian and New Zealand Terrorism Compared". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 41: 59–76. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2017.1287501. S2CID 114479246.

Coordinates: 37°33′39″S 175°09′24″E / 37.56078°S 175.156574°E / -37.56078; 175.156574