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Über dieses Buch

This book is a study of New Zealand shaking off its quasi-colonial dependence on Britain. Has New Zealand moved beyond its colonial heritage? Is it now time to remove the Union Jack from the national flag and change to a Republic? Hall analyses the three decades after World War II when changes in Britain, mainly as a consequence of that war, forced New Zealand to seek new markets for its exports, which were predominantly primary produce; notably meat, wool and dairy products. A key symbol of these changes was Britain becoming a member of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 – how did this engagement with Europe impact on trade with a Commonwealth country? Significantly, rather than politicians and diplomats, voices of New Zealand’s primary producers (the 'backbone of the economy') are used to describe the country’s decolonisation in trade.

The volume traces how relationships between Britain and one of its main dominions evolved from their quasi-colonial relationship and how the dominion coped with breaking away from over-dependence on Britain not just in economic terms but also in sentimental terms. Hall provides an interesting overview of the final stages of decolonisation.



1. Introduction

Chapter 1 describes the structure of New Zealand primary production and its relationship with Britain, noting in particular the need for change because of Britain’s worsened financial state following World War II. The actual changes between 1945 and 1975 are reported noting how New Zealand reduced its dependence on exports to Britain. The chapter discusses how primary production has been reported in earlier studies and points out the diverse views on whether the community was overly conservative or innovative. The chapter concludes by outlining the themes of the book’s main chapters and identifies the main primary and secondary sources used for the book.
David Hall

2. Changing Relationships

Chapter 2 first reviews the development of New Zealand primary production from its beginnings as a key source of exports. Then it examines how over-dependence on Britain grew through a combination of sentimental links, the difficulties in global economics that encouraged the British Empire and Commonwealth countries to protect themselves through preferential trade arrangements, and, finally, through the disruption of World War II that encouraged Britain to procure all New Zealand’s meat, dairy and wool production surplus to domestic needs. The weakening of the trading links after World War II is then noted, particularly the influences that encouraged New Zealand to broaden its trading outlook and for Britain to approach the European Economic Community (EEC).
David Hall

3. A Brutal Snapping of the Anglo-New Zealand Nexus?

Chapter 3 reviews changes in the trade relationship between New Zealand and Britain caused by Britain’s engagement with the European Economic Community (EEC). The formation of the EEC in 1955 gave Britain a dilemma; it could join only by reducing or abandoning the Imperial Preference arrangements with Commonwealth countries. The dilemma was first put to one side by Britain standing aloof from the developments in Continental Europe but eventually economic pressures forced Britain to investigate whether a compromise might be possible. It was into the 1970s before a compromise was found with special arrangements being agreed for New Zealand. There are multiple interpretations of the economic impact of those arrangements and those are reviewed concluding that the impact was emotional rather than economic.
David Hall

4. Meat and the British Market

Chapter 4 analyses developments in New Zealand’s meat exports to Britain. The British market is described for five specific periods: bulk purchase; increased belligerence at the perceived unfair treatment of New Zealand; growing doubts about future sales to Britain; the impact of Britain’s growing engagement with European unification; and the ending of duty-free and unrestricted access for New Zealand meat. The story is one of an industry dominated by a strong personality, Sir John Ormond, who welcomed the strong links with Britain and only reluctantly accepted a weakening of the links. But independent exporters and meat producers recognised the changes taking place in Britain and the need for New Zealand to seek markets elsewhere. New Zealand successfully retained the British market whilst earnings from new markets increased sufficiently that they overtook the earnings from Britain in the 1970s.
David Hall

5. Diversification of Meat Exports

Chapter 5 reports how diversification of meat markets was a continuous evolution with the most significant new markets being the USA and Japan. Producers had identified the need for new markets as early as 1945 and, in 1947, the Meat Board set aside significant resources for seeking and establishing new markets. Success, in terms of tonnage sales comparable with those to Britain, came in the late 1950s and 1960s when New Zealand successfully diversified meat exports through mutton sales to Japan and beef sales to the USA. Exports to Britain were maintained despite the successful diversification and meat became New Zealand’s most successful export sector in 1970, earning in real terms three times the revenue earned in 1950 whilst doubling the tonnage exported.
David Hall

6. Dairy and the British Market

Chapter 6, after reviewing the distinctive domestic organisation of dairying in New Zealand, analyses the long battle by dairy producers to maintain earnings from Britain. After 1945 international dairy markets changed significantly, from shortages caused by the dislocation of World War II to over-supply by the 1960s. In 1958, dairy produce dumping onto the British market led to Britain protecting New Zealand by introducing quotas for other suppliers. By 1961, New Zealand accepted a quota being placed on its dairy exports to Britain. The arrangements for continuation of dairy export quotas after Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) are reviewed and found to have been welcomed by the New Zealand government and the dairy industry. Indeed, New Zealand was embarrassed because it exported less than the agreed EEC quotas.
David Hall

7. Diversification of Dairy Exports

Chapter 7 reviews New Zealand’s diversification to new dairy export markets together with the many obstacles to that diversification. The realisation that the British market would not grow gave a prime incentive for diversification. The increased sale of milk powder and by-products to Asia and the Americas made New Zealand’s overseas earnings from dairy produce 60% higher in real terms in 1975 than in 1945. The New Zealand dairy industry achieved the necessary change despite American restrictions on dairy imports and sales of domestic surpluses by the USA and many others in competition with New Zealand. Because New Zealand had diversified both markets and products, the European Economic Community (EEC) quotas agreed when Britain joined proved to be far less a concern than expected when Britain first approached the EEC a decade earlier.
David Hall

8. Wool Marketing and Reform

Chapter 8 notes that New Zealand wool exports were far less dependent on sales to Britain than meat and dairy exports. Unlike the meat and dairy sectors, the wool story is not a story of clinging to the British market whilst seeking to diversify into new markets. Sales to markets other than Britain easily made up for the reduction in sales to Britain. The main long-term difficulties were from synthetics and economic instability in New Zealand’s main wool export markets. Those threats encouraged attempts at reform for the wool industry but the success of wool exports in the 1940s and 1950s encouraged woolgrowers opposition to reform.
David Hall

9. Handling the Threat to Wool from Synthetics

Chapter 9 reports that at first after World War II New Zealand woolgrowers did not see the threat from synthetics as a major threat. Growers paid for the International Wool Secretariat (IWS) to deal with the threat but growers only vaguely understood what the IWS did and doubted that it helped them. The Wool Board did not share the doubts and doubled the woolgrowers’ contribution in 1964 causing woolgrowers to question more definitively how they benefitted from IWS activities. Following a major price collapse of 1966–1968, woolgrowers doubted even more strongly the IWS’s value. The Wool Board’s financial weaknesses in the late 1960s persuaded the government to contribute to IWS costs but the government shared the woolgrowers’ doubts. Eventually, in the 1970s, the Wool Board began to share those doubts and started, itself, to promote New Zealand wool sales overseas.
David Hall

10. Conclusion

Chapter 10 summarises that in 1945 New Zealand was proud of being Britain’s ‘offshore farm’ but Britain’s financial weakness made change essential. The dairy industry engaged with Asia early, introducing new products and marketing approaches. Meat producers increased their output and exporters identified new markets in the USA and Japan. Synthetics and economic instability in export markets were the major threats for the wool industry. Prosperity in the 1940s and 1950s hindered wool reform. The overall percentage reduction in New Zealand’s exports to Britain demonstrated not the nemesis of trade with Britain but success in trade with others – a cause for celebration rather than mourning. The impact from Britain rebuilding its indigenous agriculture was greater than the impact from Britain’s European Economic Community (EEC) membership. Producers adapted through the difficulties of breaking away from Britain to maintain their strong, essential, contribution to New Zealand’s economy.
David Hall


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