Grey River Argus, January 8, 1920, page 2
The Grey River Argus, was a West Coast newspaper owned by mine workers. It printed the lyrics to the song above in 1920.
You can hear the late Utah Phillips give his rendition in the post below.
The song, with words attributed to an “unknown proletarian” was popularised by the Industrial Workers of the World or Wobblies in the USA.
The Wobbly’s message of “One Big Union” to organise workers to wage uncompromising struggle against the exploiting class found widespread support among West Coast miners and many other workers in Aotearoa, in the early years of last century.
The poem / song is a reworking of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Song of the Dead”, a 1893 tribute to the sailors sacrificed so the British Navy could rule the waves.