New Zealand servicemen and women returning from the battlefields of Europe, Africa and the Pacific wanted to pick up lives that had been interrupted by the Second World War.
After the war there was a new mood of hopefulness. The generation that had known want and terrible loss was enjoying the new peace and prosperity.
By 1949 the Labour government, led by Peter Fraser, looked increasingly tired and out of touch.
The National Party, led by the gruff and tough Sidney Holland, became more vocal. The party demanded more freedom of choice and an end to excessive bureaucracy. But National was wise enough to accept the Welfare State.
The voters wanted a bright new tune and the National Party romped home to victory in 1949.
During the 1951 waterfront dispute Holland came down hard on the wharfies and their allies. Undaunted by the scale of the dispute, Holland continued his campaign. As the government set out to prove that they could control militant unions, the unionists clashed with police in a series of ugly incidents.
But the real fight was for public opinion. One thing had become clear, militant unionism would have no place in the still conservative fabric of 1950s New Zealand.
Sid Holland remained Prime Minister until he retired in 1957 and was succeeded by Keith Holyoake.