‘A Man’s Environment’? The Petone Workingmen’s Club and Masculinity in New Zealand after 1945
My thesis, in the broadest terms, looks at New Zealand men’s understanding of themselves and their work. My study is based on oral history interviews with male members of the Petone Workingmen’s Club in Lower Hutt, Wellington. This thesis has two purposes: to compare men’s experiences with wider understandings of class, work and masculinity in New Zealand during the post-World War II period, and to complicate the assumptions about masculinity that have gone somewhat unexplored in historiography. This study takes a thematic approach to men’s experience, but weaves elements of oral history and historiography throughout. Chapter three looks at the Petone Workingmen’s Club as a masculine and working-class space; while Chapter four continues to examine men’s memories and masculinities, this time in the context of an interview. Finally, Chapter five observes the place of education, leisure, and particularly work, in men’s narratives to add greater depth to histories of work, class and masculinity in New Zealand. My interviews found that studies of New Zealand men have neglected the role that class, gender and historical changes have had in affecting men’s understanding of themselves and their lives. This thesis hopes to complicate, as well as add value to, the limited scholarship that exists surrounding masculinity in New Zealand, particularly among working-class men.