The Dominion State at War
This thesis examines the New Zealand state during the First World War. It seeks to ask, firstly, to what extent did the economic size and legal reach of this state expand during, and because of, the war; secondly, how did was this growth affected by, and how did it impact upon, New Zealand’s relationship with Great Britain? My hypothesis is that, as the wartime New Zealand state expanded in size and power, its relationship with Britain grew tighter and stronger. Following an introduction, in which I take issue with the use of the term “nation” to describe New Zealand in the early twentieth century, the thesis is divided into four chapters. In the first, I look at the men who led the New Zealand Government during the war, in particular the Prime Minister, William Ferguson Massey, and the Cabinet Ministers James Allen, Alexander Herdman, and Joseph Ward; I also respond to the recent historical reassessments of Massey and his government. In the second chapter, I look at education policy during the war, asking how the war influenced administrator’s attempts to centralise control over schools. In the third chapter, I trace the growth of the wartime economy, and the even more substantial growth of the state’s role in the economy, paying particular attention to how trade with Britain grew, and impacted upon other economic policies, suggesting that export of pastoral produce to Britain drove both New Zealand’s economy, and much of the Dominion Government’s policies. In the fourth and final chapter, I look at law and order policies during the war, paying particular attention to the erosion of evidence law in war regulations, and the conscription of men to fight overseas. I will ultimately argue that the growth of, and tighter control over, the pastoral export trade to Britain, and the increasing legal powers of the state within New Zealand, together constituted an expansion of the Dominion government directed at pursuing the needs of the Empire, over and above the needs of New Zealanders.