Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Government in New Zealand

A Reading List

page 169

A Reading List

Of the descriptive and analytic accounts of New Zealand political life, easily the best is André Siegfried's La Démocratic en Nouvelle-Zélande (Paris, 1904). Although it was written more than thirty-five years ago, Siegfried's analysis of the political characteristics of the New Zealanders is almost as true to-day as it was then. It is necessary to remember, however, that Siegfried wrote when the Liberal-Labour Government was at the peak of its prestige and his book is therefore inclined to overestimate the inherent radicalism of the New Zealand electorate. For this reason, the English translation, Democracy in New Zealand (London, 1914), is particularly valuable, since it has for a preface an admirable essay by W. Downie Stewart on the causes of the Liberal-Labour party's decline. Lord Bryce, in the second volume of his Modern Democracies (London, 1921) devotes a section to New Zealand. Some of his conclusions are discussed in the last section of this work. The classic account of New Zealand political life by a New Zealander occurs in William Pember Reeves's Long White Cloud (3rd ed., London, page 1701924). Reeves was for several years a member of the Seddon Ministry and writes with unrivalled knowledge of the actual processes of government in New Zealand. The Long White Cloud is, however, very much the product of its period. J. C. Beaglehole's New Zealand, a Short History (London, 1936) might also be placed in the same class as the three works listed above, since it is more an essay on New Zealand politics than a history.

Because problems of material welfare are almost the whole content of New Zealand politics, much of what has been written about social and economic policy is useful to the student of government. The two outstanding books in this class are J. E. Le Rossignol and W. Downie Stewart's State Socialism in New Zealand (London, 1910) and W. P. Reeves's State Experiments in Australia and New Zealand (London, 1902). Of these two books, the first is the more objective and the more comprehensive. The special interest of Pember Reeves's work is his own connection with some of the social experiments of the Seddon period. J. B. Condliffe's New Zealand in the Making (London, 1930) has useful passages on the growth of the Labour movement and gives what is perhaps the best estimate of the achievements of New Zealand governments in the sphere of economic control and development. A. Métin's Le Socialisme sans Doctrines (Paris, 1901) contains some interesting observations on the spirit of New Zealand politics at the end of the nineteenth century.

The standard work on the legal and constitutional aspects of government in New Zealand is J. Hight and page 171H. D. Bamford's Constitutional History and Law of New Zealand (Christchurch, 1914). Information on later constitutional developments will be found in A. Berriedale Keith's Responsible Government in the Dominions (2nd ed., Oxford, 1928), P. Noel Baker's The Present Juridical Status of the British Dominions in International Law (London, 1929), H. V. Evatt's The King and His Dominion Governors (Oxford, 1936), and K. C. Wheare's The Statute of Westminster and Dominion Status (Oxford, 1938).

The earlier period of New Zealand political history is covered by G. W. Rusden's History of New Zealand (London, 1883) and A. Saunders's History of New Zealand from 1642 to 1893 (Christchurch, 1896-9). Both these writers are so close to the events they narrate that their work is in places far short of critical detachment. The only brief, up-to-date, and reasonably reliable political histories are in the volume on New Zealand in The Cambridge History of the British Empire—volume vii, part ii (Cambridge, 1933), and A. W. Shrimpton and A. E. Mulgan's Maori and Pakeha, a History of New Zealand (2nd ed., Christchurch, 1930). The quarterly issues of The Round Table give a useful and on the whole dispassionate account of political developments in New Zealand from 1910 to the present time.

Several biographies contain material valuable to the student of New Zealand political life. W. L. Rees and L. Rees's The Life and Times of Sir George Grey (Auckland, 1892), J. Collier's The Life of Sir George Grey, Governor, High Commissioner, and Premier (Christchurch, 1909), and page 172G. C. Henderson's Sir George Grey, Pioneer of Empire in Southern Lands (London, 1907) throw light on the early period of constitutional government. J. Drummond's Life and Work of Richard John Seddon (Christchurch, 1906) covers the period of Liberal-Labour rule and W. Downie Stewart's Sir Francis Bell, his Life and Times (Wellington, 1937) the period of conservative government from 1911 to 1935.

Very little has been written about public administration in New Zealand except in official publications. The New Zealand Official Year-Book gives brief histories and descriptions of all the more important institutions of central and local government. More detailed information about local government is given in The Local Authorities Handbook, compiled, like The New Zealand Official Year-Book, by the Census and Statistics Department. The best sources for the history of the public service are the reports of the Royal Commission of 1866 (Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1866, D-7, 7a, 7b) and of the Commission of 1912 (Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1912, Sess. II, H-34). The development of the public service since 1912 is recorded in the annual reports of the Public Service Commissioner (Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, H-14, 1913 and subsequent years). Discussions of public service problems will also be found in The Public Service Journal, the monthly organ of the Public Service Association of New Zealand, and in the Journal of Public Administration, the journal of the New Zealand Institute of Public page 173Administration. Information about the organisation of state departments can be had from these sources and from the annual reports of the departments themselves in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives. The development of the New Zealand system of public accounting can be traced in the annual reports of the Controller and Auditor General, published each year with the public accounts (Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, B-1 since 1860) though it is necessary to remember that there is normally some difference of opinion between the Controller and Auditor General and the Treasury.

Government is such a wide subject that a reading list such as this must be arbitrarily selective. Students seeking fuller information about the range of published works and source materials should consult the bibliography at the end of the volume on New Zealand in The Cambridge History of the British Empire.