Rejection of bondage : a comparative study of the labour content of Wakefield's scheme of systematic colonisation and labour in the first years of the New Zealand Wakefield settlements
Henning, Jonathan Denis (Jon)
Wakefield's theory of systematic colonisation contained within it various ideas relating to labour and labour relations. This thesis considers, in two parts, the impact of these ideas on the establishment and the early years of the New Zealand Wakefield settlements. In the first part, it examines Wakefield's theory. A principal focus of the theory was the issue of how labour should be supplied to and controlled in the colonial labour market. Wakefield strongly rejected all traditional forms of forced labour and proposed the adoption of systematic colonisation. The two features of this scheme were the sale of land at a high price to ensure that labourers remained in the labour market for several years and the use of the revenue from land sales to assist labourers to emigrate to the colonies. In addition, the emigrants were given guarantees of work in the proposed settlements. The second part of this thesis looks at the application of Wakefield's ideas to the New Zealand settlements. It also looks at how the attitudes and behaviour of the early emigrants to these settlements may have reflected Wakefield's ideas. In general, these ideas had a varied impact on the settlements and the settlers. The colonising agencies sold land at a high price and used the revenue to assist emigrants to the settlements. These ideas also persisted beyond the early settlement period. But the agencies never exercised any effective control over the labour market or labour. The agencies also provided work when needed, but only for relatively short period. Moreover, the main legacy from this particular experience may have been an aversion on the part of the colonial elite to the further provision of relief. Wakefield and his settlements also provided two enduring triumphs for labour. The better known of these is the eight hour day. Perhaps the more fundamental triumph, however, was labour's general freedom from the legal enforcement of specific service. The settlers reflected in this achievement Wakefield's rejection of all the traditional forms of labour bondage.
Advisor: Olssen, Erik; Roth, Paul
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis