The Making of New Zealanders: The evolution of national identity in the nineteenth century
Palenski, Ronald Allan
This study examines the gradual development of New Zealand identity, the process during which immigrants in the nineteenth century began to think of themselves as New Zealanders rather than as transplanted Britons or immigrants from other overseas shores, including most particularly the other Australasian colonies. It contends that this process was made manifest earlier than has hitherto been postulated. Events held earlier as breakthroughs in a sense of national identity, such as the federation of Australia in 1901, the Boer War of 1899-1902, the rugby union team’s tour of the United Kingdom and France in 1905-06 and the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, were rather outward affirmations of the identity that had already taken shape. It studies some aspects of mid-nineteenth century New Zealand history that have rarely been remarked upon in the historiography, such as an early opposition to the fledgling country becoming a penal colony and to the introduction of a uniform time for the whole of the country. These are held to have been early markers of an evolving national identity. Others, such as the role of Māori, provided a unique dimension and led to a fused national identity between the indigenous and the recent arrivals. Māori in fact provided the lead in the sport that came to be regarded as “the national game,” rugby union. Landmark legislation, especially the world-first giving the franchise to women on a national basis, is also seen as having significant impact on the evolution of national identity. While some of the legislative change was also adopted elsewhere, it was an aggregation of the changes that made New Zealand distinctive and to be seen as a “social laboratory.” While the concept of national identity may have become passé among historians, and even be seen as being misleading and applying to a few rather than to the many, post-modern thinking cannot change what happened; it can only change interpretations of events of the past. This thesis is about the British and others who migrated to New Zealand from the 1840s, how they came to see themselves as New Zealanders and the various agencies that brought about that change. Whether that was right or wrong, or whether national identity is a devalued concept, is a debate for another time and another place. This is about the making of New Zealanders.
Advisor: Brooking, Tom; Trapeznik, Alexander
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: identity; national