Yesterday, we put up a piece from Tim Leadbeater’s 100 Years of Trenches blog; we also asked Tim to write a short piece about his blog.

by Tim Leadbeater

I write about a range of topics which relate to New Zealand history, especially WW1 history. I am particularly interested in New Zealand literature of the interwar period, and I write a fair bit about writers such as Robin Hyde, John A. Lee and Ormond E. Burton. Part of my aim is to develop a critical perspective on Anzac Day through the interpretation of these texts.

I am also interested in the history of resistance to war in the early part of the twentieth century in general, but with a NZ focus. So far I have only written a small amount on these themes but I am keen to learn and write more about topics like the IWW, pacifism, Irish Nationalism, Maori resistance to the war and related histories.

Alongside and through these tasks I also aim to comment on the current deployment of what I term “Anzac ideology” in the centenary year 2015, and in the years of commemoration to follow. I provide links to various critical sources and comment on current Anzac-related issues.

  1. soundhill1 says:

    Tim Leadbeater your talking about resistance to war which reminded me of Walter Lawry’s tale of treatment of NZ conscientious objectors, as well as their escapades, “We Said No To War.” Walter once said they should become vegetarians so the British could have more meat. Following along I came across the big pdf file, “The Compassionate Contrarians,” about vegetarians and resistance, and found that Rex Mason, was also one. He became a member of the Labour Government and I think responsible for the age benefit, and the removal of the death penalty, but not far left.

  2. Phil F says:

    The removal of the death penalty for murder was interesting. It happened under a National Party government, but there was a free vote. Eleven National MPs, including Muldoon and Bert Walker, voted for abolition. Jack Marshall, the deputy prime minister, was a staunch supporter of the death penalty.

    It’s interesting because Marshall was later widely seen as on the liberal end of the National Party and Muldoon and Walker generally held fairly reactionary social views.

    Also, interestingly, although most National MPs supported the death penalty, the government allowed their minister of justice, Ralph Hanan, to bring forward legislation for its abolition. Hanan was the chief proponent of abolition in National, supported by people like Muldoon, while ‘Gentleman Jack’ Marshall was the leading proponent of maintaining the death penalty.

    The prime minister, Holyoake, voted to maintain it but, behind the scenes, seems to have encouraged Hanan a great deal to push ahead with abolition.

    In 1989 the death penalty per se was abolished (it had continued to be on the statute books for treason).


    • soundhill1 says:

      Mason had prepared the Crimes Amendment Bill, and I presume it was still on the Order Paper when National was elected. They may have judged public feeling. Muldoon had some skill at that didn’t he?

  3. Phil F says:

    I think it was Holyoake who judged the way public opinion was moving.

    I think Muldoon, Hanan and a few others were genuinely anti the death penalty. Muldoon generally had principles – most of them bad ones, but he did have them. In this case, it was a progressive one.

    In those days, politicians did stand for certain things, not just whatever focus groups told them.


  4. soundhill1 says:

    And it was said Mason was moving to a less punitive set of laws for homosexuality.
    He was also apparently friends with the Theosophists, whose ideas of the evolution of a soul and a body to house it were wrongly interpreted maybe by Hitler, despite the Theosophical precepts of a universal brotherhood regardless of race, caste, sex, creed or colour.