Alessio, D. (2008) Imagining New Zealand as new Europe, 1870-1930. Invited Presentation presented to: New Zealand and the Mediterranean: 15th Annual New Zealand Studies Association (NZSA) Conference, Florence, Italy, 02-04 July 2008.
During the late nineteenth-century, when people outside the country sometimes did hear news about New Zealand, it was often not always positive. The former New Zealand Prime Minister John Ballance, in an 1892 letter, received news from his fellow countryman W.B. Percival, that “The only items of news in the past which have reminded people of our existence, has [sic] been some sensational report of a sea serpent – an earthquake – eruption, or food, items which probably don’t favourable [sic] impress the British public.” Nor had the legacy of the New Zealand Wars left a good impression with many overseas. In the film The Adventures of Algy (Frank Beaumont Smith, 1925) the bowler-hat and monocle wearing protagonist Algy is worried that arriving at Wellington he will be attacked by Maori cannibals. To make matters worse, some of those immigrants who did come to New Zealand promptly left when the economy worsened or when they had begun to miss Home. One way to offset this poor international reputation and to help alleviate anxieties about homesickness was to cultivate deliberately an image of the colony as a new Europe. So various parallels were drawn between New Zealand and a wide range of well-known European nations, including Britain, France, Malta, Turkey, Greece and Italy. This paper examines some of the European analogies developed by the colony’s promoters. It seeks to explain how and why Mediterranean imagery was, after British associations, especially prevalent
Conference or Workshop Item (Invited Presentation)