Propaganda, Perspective, and the British World: New Zealand’s First World War Propaganda and British Interactions, 1914-1918
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Despite the ubiquity of the First World War as a key moment in the development of New Zealand’s national identity in scholarship and public memory, key aspects remain under explored. This thesis addresses a particularly noticeable gap – the operation and contents of New Zealand’s official First World War propaganda campaign. Through this focus, this thesis particularly explores how such propaganda reflected New Zealand’s place within, and engagement with, the concept of the ‘British world’. Propaganda is an ideal window into the workings of the British world during the war, illustrating both the operation of the practical connections, and the ideological reflections of national, imperial, and ‘British’ identities in the British world. Therefore, New Zealand and Britain’s First World War propaganda demonstrates the nature of the British world, particularly through exploration of the ways that New Zealand’s official campaign connected to and interacted with Britain’s official wartime propaganda campaign. Specifically, the thesis argues that a gap existed between the rhetorical ‘British world’, as constructed in the content of New Zealand’s wartime propaganda, and the practical realities of how the British world operated and interacted during the war. While New Zealand was comfortable rhetorically identifying itself as ‘British’ and part of the British world, practical limitations of communication and interaction with Britain often inhibited this theoretical community. The concept of ‘Dominion perspective’ is crucial to this interpretation. New Zealand’s Dominion status was central to the operation of propaganda in and between New Zealand and Britain during the war, and to New Zealand’s identification of itself within its propaganda. This interpretation reflects a wider view of New Zealand’s experience of the British world. Though concepts of Dominion status and the British world were centrally important to New Zealand during the war, they were not unproblematic. These concepts were frequently reshaped both theoretically and practically. The First World War was crucial to this development, as the closer interaction and cooperation within the British world it demanded, laid bare both the practical shortcomings of the British world, and the contested nature of concepts of Dominion status and the British world itself. The operation of official wartime propaganda in the British world reflects this wider process, and its significance to New Zealand.