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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review October, 1920

Free Discussion Club

Free Discussion Club

Owing to the rush and turmoil of the first term, the tournament and extravaganza, and the student pilgrimage to the shrines of frivolity, the first meeting of this Club was necessarily delayed until late in the year. page 61 At it, however, mention was made of the excellent work Miss K. Braddock had performed as secretary of the Club, and hope was expressed that her activities in the new fields would be as successful as they were in the old. It was resolved to expend the surplus funds of the Club before the Government placed a tax on unincorporated bodies, and accordingly the sum of £2 is being utilised in the purchase of "Foreign Affairs" and "Current Opinion" which two periodicals are to be found on the Library tables. The "How-England-lost-the-war" attitude of the former and the "How- America-won-the-war" attitude of the latter ought to provide neutralising media conducive to the deepest thought.

The first subject discussed this year was "Conscience and Authority." Professor Hunter opened and a keen discussion followed. The speaker, in the short time which he had at his disposal, dealt very fully with man and man's relation to the state. The alleged freedom of speech, the adequacy of wages in relation to work done, and the much-argued position of the conscientious objector. With reference to the last, the Professor, while admitting the rights of the State to make a civil demand upon the allegiance of its citizens, expressed disapproval of a policy which offered them the alternative of choosing prison or an abandonment of their religious principles. There were many offices, he said, which these men could and would have filled—offices no less dangerous and of no less importance than those filled by the fighting men themselves.

The question of "Naturalisation and its Revocation" was introduced by Professor Mackenzie, who, in the course of a short address, said that it was eminently desirable that uniformity should be secured as far as possible in the conditions for the admission of so-called aliens to citizenship. Almost all nations had formulated and enacted laws of naturalisation, in approaching the question it was desirable to know:—(1) What determined one's nationality, and (2) what were the conditions of naturalisation in the particular State in which the question of revocation of naturalisation was raised.

With regard to the first point, Professor Mackenzie said that there were two principles recognised in this connection. Britain and the United States recognised what was known as the place of one's birth as the determinant; while nations influenced more directly by Roman jurisprudence recognised tee nationality of the "father" as the chief determinant. With regard to the second question—that of the condition of naturalisation in the particular country in which the question of the revocation was raised—it was sufficient to state that, with the possible exception of the United States, no nation conceded to aliens (who sought naturalisation under its auspices) the full rights enjoyed by the native-born citizens. In Britain and its possessions the privileges were limited. The rights conferred by naturalisation under the auspices of the New Zealand Government were confined to the limits of the New Zealand Government's jurisdiction. A point next, made by the Professor was that no alien who had been admitted to the privileges of British citizenship should be deprived of those rights unless it had been legally established beyond all doubt that such naturalised alien had failed to comply with the conditions or violated the oath of allegiance. In this connection he criticised impending legislation in New Zealand, and urged that no naturalised alien should be deprived of his or her rights except in a just, an honourable, and a British fashion.

An interesting address was given by Mr. W. G. Gould, M.A., on "The Educational Problem of the Pacific." Mr. Gould was for many years Director of Education in the Friendly Islands, and has spent a great deal of time among the Polynesian group. He dwelt on the fact that the influx of white population had, until the last ten years or so, meant a decrease of native population, instancing Rarotonga, where the population now was not more than 15 per cent, of what it had been originally. The wearing of clothes and disease were not the real causes. The trouble was the European with the ideas of amity which took away the natives' one incentive to labour—that of struggle—and the result was indolence. The universal pursuit in the islands was agriculture, and any forced or artificial labour was bad. The wants of the natives were few, and satisfaction was readily obtained. Education of the natives must proceed along the line of derivative wants and higher ideals according to their own mode of living. The transplanting of worn-out systems of New Zealand education was merely absurd. English grammar school systems were, if anything, worse. The New Zealand Government, however, deserved a certain amount of credit for what it had done, and this the Trade Commission had not given it.