Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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'Just a Damned Nuisance': New Zealand's Changing Relationship with Israel from 1947 Until May 2010

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posted on 2021-11-13, 10:34 authored by van Voorthuysen, Hannah

In 1955, Mr Linton, the Israeli Minister accredited to New Zealand, sent an angry cable home decrying how the New Zealand government seemed to view Israel as if it “were just a damned nuisance, involving New Zealand in complex debating with a certain amount of expenditure within a sphere remote from Dominion interests and apprehensions.” Despite this early criticism from the Israelis, there has been an ongoing level of interest within New Zealand towards the Jewish state that goes beyond what should be expected as the cultural, economic, historic and diplomatic ties between New Zealand and Israel are relatively insignificant. Degrees of closeness between the two states have fluctuated dramatically, from New Zealand's strong political support of the creation of Israel at the United Nations in 1945, to an adoption of Israel's kibbutzim model in the 1970s, and culminating in the extraordinary cutting of diplomatic ties in 2004. What explains these dynamic shifts in attitude? Why has the relationship seen such dramatic shifts throughout the last fifty years? What explains this intense interest from consecutive New Zealand governments, diplomatic staff and the New Zealand public? In this thesis I explore how the relationship is generally shaped by the interest-motivated hand of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, punctuated every now and then by a well placed individual responding to instinct or passion. I also explore the role of external influences on the relationship, examining how trade concerns with Arab states in the Middle East affected the relationship, and examining the effect of international left-wing discomfort towards Israel. New Zealand's relationship with Israel is a dynamic but woefully underexplored history that deserves greater attention and analysis. This thesis tells that story.


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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 International Relations

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Capie, David