From the middle of the twentieth century internal labour markets (ILMs) were established at a range of ports occupying a central role within the Western-style economies. The resulting institutional arrangements eliminated spot contracting on the external labour market through port worker registration systems that created a class of labour market ‘insiders’ who had the exclusive right to perform port work. These systems frequently were a product of interventionist port policies adopted by governments of various political stripes. Two of the most heavily researched are Britain’s Dock Labour Scheme and the New York Waterfront Commission hiring system, established in 1947 and 1953 respectively. Less well known antipodean equivalents of these distinctive transport-sector institutions were the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, set up in 1949, and the Waterfront Industry Commission (hereafter the Commission) that was created in New Zealand in 1946. Notwithstanding their different origins and structures, these state-sponsored port ILM institutions had unintended consequences that ramified through management–labour relations for decades.