The War Effort of New Zealand
2—The New Zealand Delegation
2—The New Zealand Delegation.
The New Zealand delegation, consisting of the Rt. Hon. W. F. Massey, P.C. (Prime Minister), and the Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Ward, P.C. (Minister of Finance), accompanied by Mr. F. D. Thomson, C.M.G., private secretary to the Prime Minister (Mr. Thomson was subsequently appointed an assistant secretary to the British Empire delegation, and took part in the reporting of many of its important conferences), Mr. R. Riley, official journalist, and Miss A. Saunders, private secretary to Sir Joseph Ward, arrived in Paris from London on the evening of January 21. The Ministers were informed officially of the decision of the Council of the Great Powers that New Zealand should be represented by only one delegate at the Peace Conference. Mr. Massey conferred with Mr. Lloyd George the following day, and arrangements were at once made to have the question of New Zealand's representation discussed at a meeting of the British Empire delegation the same day. After statements had been made by the New Zealand Ministers at the private session of the delegation, it was unanimously decided that Sir Joseph Ward be appointed a member of the panel of British delegates with the right of attending the plenary sessions of the Peace Conference and the meetings of the British Empire delegation.
It may be explained that the British Empire had been allotted no fewer than fourteen plenipotentiaries, with five in the most powerful section of the Conference.
The question of the disposal of the former German colonies and the claims of the British Dominions thereto came before the Council of the Allied and Associated Powers on the afternoon of January 24th. Mr. Massey presented the claims of New Zealand respecting the future control of German Samoa. The Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes presented the case for Australia regarding German New Guinea, and other islands in the South Pacific, and Lieut.-General Smuts (in the absence of General Botha) for the Union of South page 202Africa in regard to German South-West Africa. All advocated, with certain reservations concerning purely Dominions' interests, the policy of the British Empire.
There was complete unanimity as regards the non-restoration of the ex-German Colonies. The only question at issue was the manner in which these territories should be disposed of and administered. The Council of the Powers was opposed to anything in the form of a simple division of the spoils of victory. Three methods of disposal were put forward, and, of these, two were at once rejected. These were internationalisation or direct control by the League of Nations and annexation. The first was deemed to be impracticable, and the second was in flat contradiction of one of the cardinal points of President Wilson's catechism of settlement. Attention was concentrated upon the novel proposal to adopt mandatory control. This was to establish administration through mandatories acting on behalf of the League of Nations. The main idea was to attach any one of these territories in which the interests of the backward inhabitants were to be conserved and promoted to its nearest neighbour capable of being responsible for the development of the territory and its people. There was to be no exploitation of any people and no exercise of arbitrary sovereignty over any people. The purpose was to safeguard the natives against abuses until such time as they could consciously express a desire for complete union with the mandatory State. As to the operation of any mandate the League would primarily lay down general principals aiming at the betterment of the native inhabitants. There should be no discrimination against any members of the League; economic access to the territory would be open to all. The oversea delegates did not assail the fundamental principle of this proposal, but they opposed keenly the committal of their respective countries to a blind trust in a supervisory organisation which in fact did not then exist, and which in theory was merely a skeleton of immature ideas and lofty ideals.
The respective claims of the Dominions' representatives were based on common ground. Each sought permanent page 203freedom from the past menace of German control of neighbouring territories, and from even the influence of German "peaceful penetration." German influence had been swept out of the South Pacific, and it was desired to have it kept out for ever.