Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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New Zealand's Identity and New Zealand-Japan Relations: 1945-2014

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posted on 2021-11-15, 01:50 authored by Harris, Holly

This thesis seeks to understand the role of New Zealand’s national identity in the Japan-New Zealand relationship to examine how identities and values have shaped New Zealand’s policies and diplomatic interaction with Japan. Four key identities are identified which contribute to New Zealand’s national self-image as a whole and illustrate the malleability of identity; the historically cultural British identity, the “search for independence” moral identity, the construction of an Asia Pacific state identity and the perception of New Zealand as a ‘good international citizen’ with liberally democratic values. To explore the role these identities and New Zealand’s perceptions of Japan have had on shaping bilateral relations, this thesis analyses multiple issues and policy decisions from 1945 till 2014 using the theoretical framework of Constructivism. It draws from a range of secondary literature, government documents, news sources, official speeches and various organisation’s publications from throughout this time frame. The research seeks to give a better understanding of how New Zealand’s national identity has evolved over time in response to domestic affairs and examine how it has contributed to shaping New Zealand’s relationship with Japan. It uncovers that the Japan-New Zealand relationship has developed significantly in the last seventy years and the role of identity can offer explanations regarding the ways in which New Zealand’s understanding of itself has helped shape its bilateral relationship with Japan.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Bukh, Alexander