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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 Two‘The Red Strand of Kinship’: New Zealand’s Response to War 47


Chapter Two ‘The Red Strand of Kinship’: New Zealand’s Response to War Despite its many continental European citizens, New Zealand in 1914 had a population overwhelmingly descended from Britain and was thus a fertile ground for fervent expressions of support for war. Like so many of their imperial kinsmen across the world, many New Zealanders enthu- siastically desired to go to war in the name of the imperial motherland which defined them: A strong patriotic feeling was displayed by the vast audience at Pollard’s Pictures last night. As the orchestra played ‘The Russian National Hymn’ the applause was spontaneous, when the stirring strains of ‘The Marseillaise’ were heard cheers were heartily given, and when ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘God Save the King’ were played the audience rose as one, the applause and cheering being almost deafening.1 The approving response expressed by this patriotic crowd in Greymouth in August 1914 echoed the sentiments of so many similar meetings around the Dominion. Public, politicians and press alike viewed New Zealand’s entry as automatic; the war provided a chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with other members of the British Empire. Joseph Ward, William Massey’s deputy Prime Minister, stated that ‘My motto is “for King and Country.” And it will be fervently breathed by loyal people of this Dominion as it will be through our widely scattered Empire.’2 A chorus of newly-composed and revamped patriotic songs such as The Nation Mother’s Call and Good Old New Zealand were issued to articulate national sentiment and...

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