VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > I. The Pacific Region, 1914–1945 > 4. New Zealand
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1913)
4. New Zealand
In the aftermath of World War I, government investment and tariff protection strengthened agriculture, which came to dominate the economy. An economic regime founded on the export of wool, meat, and dairy produce to Britain emerged. Partly as a result of this dependency, the global economic crisis in the 1930s affected New Zealand severely. In response to the depression, the Labour government of 1935 established one of the most comprehensive welfare programs in the non-Communist world.  1
Despite continuing alienation of land, the Maori population began to increase, and there were modest improvements in Maori health and socioeconomic position. A number of Maori leaders joined the government or were active in other areas of national politics. New Zealand's political ties to Britain remained strong, reflected in the large numbers of New Zealand troops participating in World War I. New Zealand continued to practice petty imperialism in the South Pacific through the period, violently suppressing the independence movement in Samoa in the 1920s. New Zealand sent 117,000 men overseas in World War I, most of whom were volunteers. New Zealand troops fought in Turkey, Palestine, and France, often in company with Australians. Casualties were very high. Participation in World War II was also extensive.  2
New Zealand annexed Samoa from Germany (See 1914).  3
New Zealand and Australian troops (ANZACs) participated in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. This became a symbol of emergent nationalism.  4
The Maori prophet Rua Kenana was arrested for sedition. Formation of New Zealand Labour Party by socialists and trade unionists. Heated political debate took place over the issue of conscription, which was opposed by the Waikato tribes and by the Labour Party.  5
Foundation of Ratana church by the Maori prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana. This fusion of Maori and Christian beliefs appealed to many Maori in the lower socioeconomic stratum. Samoa was given to New Zealand as a trust territory of the League of Nations.  6
The conservative Reform government won a resounding victory in the general election. The subsequent elections in the 1920s were all characterized by competition among the three parties of Reform, Liberal (later United), and Labour. Women gained the right to stand for Parliament.  7
Throughout the 1920s the government provided assistance to farmers through credit and price controls. The establishment of a dairy board (1923) helped in the marketing of dairy products.  8
Election of a Reform Party government under Gordon Coates. The government engaged in a program of public works construction, and borrowed heavily overseas.  9
The United Party, formed out of the remains of the Liberals, won the election. Its leader, Joseph Ward, promised extensive borrowing for public works.  10
New Zealand troops attempted to suppress the nationalistic Mau movement in Samoa, killing a number of its leaders.  11
New Zealand suffered severely from the depression, being essentially a producer of primary materials. The unemployed were compelled to do laboring work in return for government compensation.  12
A coalition government was formed from the Reform and United Parties. Prime Minister Coates reduced civil service salaries and introduced legislation to allow the arbitration court to cut wages.  13
Riots involving unemployed people occurred in each of the four main cities.  14
The first Ratana member of Parliament was elected, beginning the Ratana dominance over the Maori seats. Ratana established a political alliance with the Labour Party. The government made arbitration in industrial negotiations voluntary, but kept conciliation compulsory, so that unions could be forced to accept employers' terms. This weakened union power. Tariffs on New Zealand exports to Britain worsened the economic situation.  15
1935, Nov. 27
ELECTION OF THE FIRST LABOUR GOVERNMENT under Michael Joseph Savage. Savage became one of the best-loved prime ministers in New Zealand history.  16
Expansion of social welfare provisions and state support for savings and loans, including mortgages for home purchases. Government controls in banking and internal transportation increased.  17
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.