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What if NZ had not fought in World War 1?

What if NZ had not fought in World War 1?
 
April 21, 2013
 
With Anzac Day approaching a University of Canterbury historian is asking what would have happened if New Zealand had not fought in World War 1.
 
``What if New Zealand hadn’t mobilised over 100,000 men to fight for Britain in the Great War? And what if 18,000 New Zealand soldiers hadn’t died during the conflict?’’ Dr Gwen Parsons asks.
 
Dr Parsons will give a public lecture on the issue at UC on April 24. See here for more details: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/wiw/
 
``It is very difficult to know how New Zealand could not have entered the war in support of Britain, as at that time New Zealand identified so closely with the United Kingdom, seeing herself very much as the Britain of the south seas,’’ Dr Parsons says. 
 
``However, if New Zealand had already developed a much more independent sense of national identity, one in which she already saw herself as independent of Britain, then she might not have felt so obliged to go to war. 
 
``How would New Zealand national identity have developed if New Zealanders hadn’t fought and died on the slopes of Gallipoli and there was no Anzac Day? While the Great War is credited as a key event in the creation of nationhood, historians have traced the beginning of New Zealand national identity back to colonial days when, free from the vices of the Old World, young pioneers proved themselves to be self-sufficient, tough and egalitarian. 
 
``They have demonstrated how this colonial identity was developed and reinforced through participation in the Boer War and various rugby tours. The point is that before the Great War, young New Zealand men were already comparing themselves to the British and others and drawing conclusions about how they were different. 
 
``Historians haven’t really thought much about the impact of the war on New Zealand society.  Some who have, have argued that it didn’t really have much immediate impact – it just created glitches in longer-term social trends.  
 
``I think, however, that there are some areas where it had a great impact, including the development of social welfare and health provisions, both of which I think would have been stunted had New Zealand not participated in the war.  I would argue that the development of repatriation provisions for returned soldiers and the families of deceased soldiers positively affected the development of an early welfare state in New Zealand,’’ Dr Parsons says.
 
The experience of the war also meant that medical advances developed initially for soldiers became available to civilians by the early 1920s.
 
ENDS

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