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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 Three ‘Proof of Loyalty’: Naturalization, Enemy Aliens and the Public Response 69


Chapter Three ‘Proof of Loyalty’: Naturalization, Enemy Aliens and the Public Response The outbreak of war in August 1914 handed the New Zealand government the extra burden of dealing with enemy aliens. This burden proved, in both theory and practice, one of the most contentious home front issues for Massey’s administration during the four-year conf lict. A series of emer- gency measures was introduced against enemy aliens, including placing them under surveillance, ensuring they could not leave the country, arrest- ing military reservists and, if necessary, interning those deemed a danger to domestic security.1 Initially it was believed that, in its most simplistic form, an enemy alien was someone from an enemy power resident in New Zealand who had not become a naturalized Briton. Therefore, those who had become naturalized Britons – in some cases decades previously – could legally expect to be exempt from these emergency measures, as well as the raft of other legislation introduced under the War Regulations Act in November 1914.2 The naturalized Briton was not, however, safe from scrutiny. War Regulations defined an enemy alien to include, ‘any person who has been naturalized in New Zealand and who would have been an enemy alien had he not been so naturalized, and also includes any person reasonably sus- pected of being an enemy alien.’3 With this piece of legislation, naturalized 1 Arrests were made as early as 10 August in the four major centres of Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland and Dunedin; Dominion, 11 August 1914, 6. Internment of those...

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