Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 8. 1964.
New Zealand was not anxious to do anything which would break the peace with Indonesia. It wanted to remain friendly and not take final steps that could lead to trouble, Sir Leslie Munro told a recent meeting of the VUW National Club, when speaking on New Zealand's role in the Pacific.
The greatest power In the Pacific today was the United States. It was true that the Soviet Union had a submarine fleet in the Pacific and dominated, or did dominate, North Korea. But, in his opinion, the Soviet had enough on its plate keeping to its agricultural programmes and dealing with the deep-seated dispute with China. He had known for some time of the differences between Khrushchev and Mao Tse Tung.
New Zealand's obligation to Malaysia was not as great as Australia's. Australia was obliged to act if Malaysia was the victim of either aggression or subversion whereas the New Zealand obligation concerned aggression only.
Sir Leslie described New Zealand's connections with Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands.
In Fiji. New Zealand was responsible for the Nandi jet airport and although it was training local citizens, it would probably take generations for them to master this complex task. A maritime base and flyine-boat squadron were maintained in Fiji and New Zealand was also responsible for the co-ordination of defence in the area which included Fiji.
New Zealand provided a military advisor and military training, helped with the police and education systems and supplied 15 per cent of all imported goods.
The Indians, he said, exceeded the Fijians but the Fijians owned 83 per cent of the land. When Indian-held leases had expired, they had not been renewed. Consequently, the Indians were reluctant to take up land in remote areas. The two races never intermarried and there was little understanding betwen them. The Indians had been brought in because the Fijians were not willing to work on the plantations. The fog of the indenture system still lay over Fiji.
On the matter of the British attitude to the future of Fiji, he said the British wanted to give independence to every area they 'lad once governed and he felt this applied to Fiji. Although the United Nations had urged independence at once, there was still the racial problem and the British were endeavouring to bring the two races to some agreement.
Samoans were the most politically minded of all Polynesians and because of this, it had been easy to give them early independence. New Zealand had gained a high reputation because it had given independence to Western Samoa as soon as possible and the example had ever been used by the Soviet against British operations in Africa.
New Zealand had guaranteed a loan of £1 million for port development in Samoa, and the responsibility towards Samoa should continue and would continue, Sir Leslie had no doubt.
It was proposed to give the Cook Islands complete internal self-government but Sir Leslie said he associated himself with Mr. Hanan in thinking that it was vet a little premature. New Zealand would provide facilities for defence and foreign affairs, but they could rescind that if they ever wanted to. The Cook Islanders' main anxiety seemed to be in preserving the right of access to New Zealand.
He felt New Zealand should retain certain reserve powers over such things as health and land control.
To a questioner. Sir Leslie said there was a case for some restriction of entry to the Cook Islands from New Zealand as undesirables could be a nuisance.