Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Impact of War: a Diplomatic History of New Zealand's Economic Relations With Britain, 1939-1954

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posted on 2021-11-07, 22:07 authored by McKinnon, Malcolm Arthur

This study is a diplomatic history of Anglo-New Zealand economic relations through World War II and the postwar decade. During this tine Britain's priorities were such as to sharply alter her economic interests in New Zealand, compared both with the pre-war and post-1954 eras. It is this transformation which gives the period its distinctive coloration. Throughout these years Britain wanted New Zealand to conserve and direct her resources, initially to assist in the war effort, subsequently to aid the tasks of reconstruction. New Zealand gave active support to Britain. Nonetheless, she could not completely disregard her own interests. In the short-term, there was always pressure to buy on the cheapest and sell on the dearest market. In the long-term, New Zealand faced more fundamental decisions. Should she seek economic security through close association with Britain? Should she diversify her economic relations? Should she try to insulate her domestic from the international economy? These longstanding concerns can be traced through the period. They, too, moulded the course of events. Chapter one looks at the record of economic diplomacy before 1939. Chapters two to five look at the World War II period. Chapter two examines the period from the perspectives of the restraint Britain sought to impose on New Zealand in the consumption of resources. Chapters three to five trace the history of New Zealand's export industries - her major contribution to the struggle - through the war. Chapters six to ten span the post-war decade. Chapter six follows the theme of chapter two through to 1949. Chapter seven looks at Britain's concern about the commercial implications of New Zealand's import policies - a concern which had taken a back seat through the war. Chapters eight and ten take the history of the food export industries through to 1954. Chapter nine picks up the themes of chapters six and seven and takes them through to 1954, and also looks at the wool trade after 1946. Lastly, chapter eleven looks at how the relationship between the two countries evolved after 1954. The end of the long period of stringency meant a return in some, but certainly not in all, respects to pre-war conditions.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Boyd, Mary