"Suitable" for New Zealand : the impact of inter-war migration on an emergent nationalism, 1919-39.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis considers aspects of both the formal and informal perspectives of immigration to New Zealand, looking at legislation and the attitudes and the messages created and sent within a society about migration and their implications for national identity, a perpetually evolving concept. It proceeds from the premise that the notion of protection embodied in nationalism conceivably involved a reluctance to allow immigration in large numbers for fear that it would endanger employment and living standards, and a concern that the 'racial purity' of the majority population would be impaired. The main body is divided into sections, which indicate a racial division between (those who could be considered "white" English-speaking Europeans, and those who could not), and also two contrasting viewpoints. Section One presents a study of both the policy and practise of British immigration in the interwar period. How New Zealand citizens saw their country's role within the international situation was as important as the perceived skills of individual migrants. These chapters identify the three main types of immigrant considered suitable, and their adaption to the New Zealand environment. Migrants were all different but they were shaped equally by the need to frame New Zealand's cultural identity. For the purposes of Section Two the focal point is on those migrants who were conceptually viewed as unsuitable. It addresses the process by which “aliens" were defined, and unwillingness of policy-makers to actively help “ aliens" to become assimilated. The implications of a preconceived idea of The Other are also examined. Ultimately it concludes that the process of alien immigrant selection on a case by case basis failed to appreciate the changing dynamics of the international situation. While the restrictive policies of the 1930s reflected economic concerns, their very rigidity could not guarantee the “suitability" of immigrants.