Nation prepares to commemorate Labour Day by gathering at grave of the Labour Party

Pictured: Andrew Little lays a wreath at the grave of the Labour Party ahead of Labour Weekend.

Pictured: Andrew Little lays a wreath at the grave of the Labour Party ahead of Labour Weekend.

As New Zealanders go home from work this afternoon, they’ll be thinking about how best to spend the long weekend taking time off with their families, but many are also preparing to attend Monday services commemorating Labour Day, which are set to take place in Wellington at the grave of the Labour Party.

The New Zealand Labour Party, which died in 2008 and is buried just outside Parliament House, has become a revered figure in the Labour movement, and every year, those committed to its causes come together to commemorate its passing.

A dawn service is planned for early Monday morning, which is expected to be attended by the Prime Minister, as well victims of the party’s demise, including Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe and Andrew Little.

Thousands of ordinary New Zealanders are also expected to attend the service, as well as a candlelight vigil to be held at the grave on the night before.

“I think it’s really important that I teach my 5-year-old son about the Labour Party,” said former party member John Adams. “He’s going to grow up in a world without a Labour Party, and if I don’t teach him about it, he may never know it existed, or what it did.”

Numbers at the weekend’s services are expected to be even higher than last year, which Prime Minister John Key says is “encouraging.”

“Oh, look, I think, at the end of the day, everybody just wants a day off, put your feet up, have a beer, that kind of thing,” he said. “But really, we have to remember this is a sombre occasion. A party has died, and it’s good to see a lot of kiwis coming out to remember that.”

Andrew Little visited the grave earlier today, and laid a wreath with pictures of former Prime Ministers Helen Clark, David Lange and Norman Kirk attached to it.

He did not talk to media, but in a statement requested privacy “on this difficult weekend.”

“Please leave me alone,” it read. “Please, please just leave me alone. Every day is hell.”