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‘To Be Truly British We Must Be Anti-German’

New Zealand, Enemy Aliens and the Great War Experience, 1914-1919


Andrew Francis

This book is a study of the treatment of New Zealand’s German-speaking settlers during the course of the Great War. As with Britain’s other dominions, New Zealand’s German and Austro-Hungarian residents were subject to a raft of legislation which placed restrictions on their employment and activities, while those considered a danger to domestic security found themselves interned for the duration of the conflict. This book examines public, press and political responses to their presence, and describes how patriotic associations, trade organizations, xenophobic politicians and journalists undertook a vigorous anti-alien campaign resulting, in a number of instances, in anti-German riots.
Central to this book is an examination of the extent to which proimperial sentiment, concepts of citizenship and national identity, increasing European settlement and a progressively volatile European scene set the tone for the manner with which the dominion’s British settlers treated its enemy alien counterparts. Themes discussed include the public’s reaction to war; the government’s internment policy; the establishment of anti-German trade organizations; and the challenges facing Prime Minister William Massey, whose wish to remain fair and just towards enemy aliens often brought him into direct conflict with the more hostile anti-German elements within New Zealand society.


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Chapter One ‘Proven Worthy Settlers’?: European Settlement and the Rise of Anti-Alienism 15


Chapter One ‘Proven Worthy Settlers’?: European Settlement and the Rise of Anti-Alienism The question of primary importance is the character of the proposed emigrant and his suitability for colonial life. If the character is good and the emigrant possesses qualities which will enable him to become a good colonist the place of birth is of no importance.1 While New Zealand was a British colony, with approximately 90 per cent of its settler population comprised of people from the British and Irish Isles, non-English-speaking Europeans were present at the new nation’s birth. Continental European arrivals continued to increase steadily as Britons arrived in greater numbers throughout the mid to late Victorian years. In 1870 colonial treasurer Julius Vogel introduced the Immigration and Public Works Act which signalled the start of a concerted campaign to attract first British, and then later, European settlers for agricultural and industrial schemes to ‘open up’ the country.2 While continental Euro- peans formed a minority of the New Zealand settler population, which at the height of assisted migration in 1874, stood at 300,000, they nev- ertheless were noticeable. Of the 100,000 assisted migrants brought to 1 Attorney General Robert Stout quoted in A. R. Grigg, ‘Attitudes in New Zealand to Scandinavian Immigration, 1870–1876’, BA (Hons) thesis, Otago University, 1973. 2 Immigration and Public Works Act, 77, 12 September 1870, New Zealand Statutes (Wellington: Government Printer), 313–36. Also see Tony Simpson, The Immigrants: The great migration from Britain to New Zealand, 1830–1890 (Auckland:...

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