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The Home Front Volume I

CHAPTER 6 — A Dissenting Minority

page 209

A Dissenting Minority

PACIFISTS were the first targets of the drive against subversion that gathered force along with the recruiting campaign. Then, as the question of conscription sharpened amid the deepening gloom of April, May and June 1940, Communists plus a wide range of ‘subversive elements’ came under fire.

The first prosecutions of Communists, as of pacifists, arose from street meetings. The Auckland Communists regularly held a meeting at Quay Street on Sunday afternoons. On 28 January 1940, after Ormond Burton had been arrested nearby, there was a large crowd, and boisterous soldiers chanted, sang and pushed about during the two-hour meeting, wherein W. Ashton1 and T. Stanley were arrested, like Burton, for obstructing the police and obstructing a public place.2 The acumen of their lawyer got them acquitted on the first charge, for which Burton was fined £10, but on the second they were fined £2.3 Later two other speakers were convicted for obstructing a public place, but as further communist meetings had meanwhile been called off, the Court imposed no penalty.4

That same night, 28 January, again at Auckland some servicemen, a few wielding belts, tried to enter a Newton hall where Communists were holding a meeting, and threw eggs and tomatoes through a broken skylight. The police kept them out till an Army captain persuaded them to withdraw to one end of the street, while the people in the hall were escorted in the opposite direction, dispersing through side streets. Outside the hall a civilian jumped on to a window-sill, shouting ‘I have never spoken in public before, and I won’t be much good. But I am frightened, I am frightened for democracy….’ He was arrested, but not convicted, the magistrate holding that he genuinely had had no desire to antagonise anyone or cause trouble, though his judgment had been wrong.5

To the Quay Street communist meetings on the next two Sundays came crowds of more than 2000, attracted largely by prospects of page 210 trouble, but including many who went ‘not as Communists but as supporters of free speech and the right of assembly’.6 On 4 February, a strong police force with the unwanted assistance of the crowd separated the Communists from the soldiers’ party, which good-humouredly drowned the speakers’ voices for more than two hours; differing opinions were expressed in the crowd and the ‘general spirit of the meeting was anti-recruiting’.7 On 11 February the first and only speaker was overwhelmed in a rush, and shreds of a calico banner decorated soldiers’ hats. Thereafter, as most of the crowd was present to witness trouble rather than to cause it, ‘excitement rather than bad feeling distinguished the rushes that were almost invariably aimless, ending as suddenly as they began. Indeed, in several spirited scrimmages, in which there appeared to be no “beg pardons”, police, soldiers and sailors jested together as they struggled. These encounters always ended in cheers by dishevelled soldiers and sailors for the police. As much by their good humour and jests, as by their weighty and scientifically-packed wedges, that always split any rush, the police restrained the crowds’.8 One Communist was arrested for striking a soldier,9 but the police clearly avoided arrests, though ‘they suffered much provocation. Several were thrown down in the course of the struggles, in which wrestling and pushing was the general rule rather than hitting’.10 This was all good clean fun and it seems possible that the soldiers were disappointed when on 14 February the Communists announced that there would be no further meetings at Quay Street. Both the Auckland press reports and the law had been tolerant and objective about these clashes, but an Evening Post editorial remarked on ‘the absurd spectacle of a large body of police and detectives turned out to assure protection for Communist speakers.’11

Auckland’s by-laws required permits for meetings only in Queen Street or within 50 yards of it, in other busy streets or in Albert Park.12 On 2 February the Council, on the casting vote of the Mayor, Sir Ernest Davis,13 decided to make no change, and communist street meetings continued, producing several charges of subversion in the next few months. Most other civic authorities were more suppressive. In Wellington the Communists’ permit, like that of the Christian page 211 Pacifists, was speedily withdrawn. Christchurch banned them, along with the Anti-Conscription League, on 6 October. The Petone Borough Council inconclusively debated on 11 December whether they should be allowed to hold meetings on the foreshore,14 but decided against it on 12 February. At Whangarei, meetings likely to cause a breach of the peace were not to be allowed in any reserve or public building.15 At Whakatane it was decided that henceforth any meetings must first be approved by the Council; one member spoke of Hyde Park and free speech, but even to him communist meetings were unthinkable.16 The Hamilton Domain Board at the request of the police in May withdrew permission for communist meetings in their park.17 The Mt Albert Borough Council in April permitted them fortnightly, subject to traffic control.18

In the early months of the war, police attended all public meetings of Communists and pacifists, not only to suppress disorder but to record the views expressed, which were referred to the Solicitor-General for advice on their degree of subversiveness.

A total prohibition was not imposed on the public meetings of the Communist Party, although several prosecutions were successfully taken…. Several of the more able speakers having been sentenced to terms of imprisonment, public meetings had almost ceased and were of little moment at the time Russia became involved in the war.19

The party did not, however, depend on public meetings to set forth its views. Through personal contact in work-places and in unions, in the weekly People’s Voice, and in leaflets printed and distributed, by thousands, Communists attacked the war for advancing imperialist and sectional interests and attacked the government for betraying the workers to these interests. Such propaganda also praised and explained the ways of Russia. In some minds, doubt and dislike of the war grew into actual opposition, and party membership rose. According to police estimates, in 1935–6 there were 243 Communists, about 111 of them in Auckland; immediately before the war there were about 300, and 690 in 1941.20 The party also claimed an increase, though it did not publish membership figures. The page 212 People’s Voice gave its circulation as 6700 copies in July 1939,21 rising to 9500 by 15 December and more than 10 000 by 16 February 1940. In March the Auckland provincial secretary declared that the party’s fight for free speech and its attitude to the war were attracting a steady flow of recruits: during the last month every branch in the province had increased, so that Auckland now had almost as many members as the whole country had had twelve months ago. Wellington numbers were also increasing, Christchurch, formerly a weak point, had seen a remarkable influx, and new branches were forming on the West Coast; even Dunedin, in April, decided to form a People’s Voice readers’ group.22 At the Auckland West by-election in May, to replace Savage, Gordon Watson gained 368 votes, the highest till then recorded for a communist candidate, while Labour’s man P. Carr23 had 6151 and the Independent Conservative W. H. Fortune,24 2958.

The definition of subversive statements in the new Public Safety Emergency Regulations of 26 February 1940 clearly bore more directly against communist activities. False reports, reports likely to impair relations with a friendly state, and those likely to undermine confidence in government financial policy were no longer included. Statements likely to cause disaffection to the Crown, or to interfere with the success of the armed forces, to prejudice their recruiting, training and discipline, or to disrupt morale, remained subversive and to these were added statements likely to cause undue alarm, to interfere with any law relating to military training or service or the administration of justice, or to interfere with the production of anything associated with the war effort. As before, no one should do any act, or possess any thing with a view to making or facilitating the publication of a subversive statement. Still no prosecution could be brought without the consent of the Attorney-General, but now the police could stop or prohibit any meeting likely to injure public safety, and could arrest offenders without warrant, while their powers of search were much increased.

The mid-March discovery of communist-printed yellow stickers— ‘Down with conscription and the imperialist war’—on boxes of butter bound for England25 was one of the first forms of subversion to excite public attention, useful in that month of apathy. A cartoon page 213 by Minhinnick showed evil-looking rats crawling up ship mooring-ropes above the caption ‘Bigger rat guards needed’,26 while Fraser declared that these misguided workers were doing the greatest wrong to their country: dockers in London or Liverpool might be disturbed, and their faith in New Zealand shaken.27 In May a watersider was fined £10 for putting on such stickers in a coastal vessel, and the Court warned that in future penalties would be much higher, up to £100 or three months in gaol.28

The first subversive statement trials did not take place till mid-April 1940, though early in February it was decided to prosecute.29 In a group, the acting editor of the People’s Voice, C. J. Gould, and its publisher, D. McCarthy, were tried for its issues of 9 and 16 February, along with W. Ashton and W. G. Dickenson, both of the Auckland Communist party’s provincial committee, for writing and publishing pamphlets in October, January and February. A non-communist printer was tried for printing them. The pamphlets denied the sincerity of the Allies’ war aims, and stressed the anti-Soviet purposes of Chamberlain’s government, the profits of bankers and industrialists, and the misery and loss of workers in war. Fines totalling £190 were imposed.30 At the end of May, in the midst of the conscription crisis, several Communists were imprisoned for distributing leaflets. At Dunedin on 3 March, E. W. Hunter and I. M. Jamieson had quite openly put into letterboxes copies of Soldiers and Workers,31 which claimed that soldiers were pushed off to fight by those who swindled and lied to them while remaining safe at home to rake in profits and encroach on workers’ living standards. It was clearly prejudicial to recruiting, the plea that it was honest criticism like much of the other criticism then being directed at the government was dismissed as specious, and they were gaoled for three months.32 Two Invercargill Communists, who early in April had been found distributing leaflets, were gaoled, the lesser man, W. Sparks, for two months, the magistrate saying that this was a warning and only a fraction of what future offenders might expect; the local party secretary, J. E. Lawrence, who chose to go to the Supreme Court, was sentenced to six months, Mr Justice Kennedy remarking that no country would tolerate this action at such a time page 214 and in Russia punishment would be swift and final.33 H. G. Darbyshire, a roadman of Eketahuna, arrested in the street with a sandwich board and selling the pamphlet The War and the Working Class, was sentenced to six months.34 Tom Stanley, chairman of the New Zealand Communist party executive and secretary of the Auckland General Labourers Union, in March had written and published 50 000 leaflets, The Real Criminals, which in June earned him nine months’ gaol.35 At Palmerston North, also in June, L. Sim, a farmer, and H. W. Klein, law clerk, were each sentenced to a year in prison for cyclostyling ‘Spark’ for the New Zealand Bolshevik party, which urged civil war in New Zealand and condemned the Communist party as pacifist, Trotskyite and dominated by petty bourgeois intellectual adventurists.36

At this time also there were prosecutions for speeches: R. Hurd, J. Angelo and J. Langdon (the last two from the Otahuhu railway workshops) for street speeches on 5 April were each sentenced to six months’ gaol;37 two months later W. G. Dickenson, who spoke on the same occasion, received the same penalty.38 The Auckland West by-election, where Gordon Watson stood for the Communist party, brought forth a crop of subversion charges which, arising from election speeches, were considered with extra care and caution by the courts: Tom Stanley, on 13 May, had called the war ‘another Imperialist slaughter’, but F. H. Levien SM39 considered it part of the pamphlet offence for which Stanley was already in prison, and convicted him without further penalty; he discharged J. Angelo, saying that his carefully equivocal statements on 7 May to 20 listeners could be called subversive only by roundabout methods and a man should not be found guilty in that way.40 A 26-year-old bootmaker, J. D. Morey, chose trial in the Supreme Court, where he was strongly recommended to mercy as his speech on 8 May was at an election campaign meeting and to a very small audience. Mr Justice Fair page 215 fined him £25 plus three years’ probation, remarking that the situation then had not been as serious as it had since become, and election results showed that such speeches had been ineffective.41 Next day in the same Court a veteran Communist, A. Drennan, for an open-air speech on 10 May, was similarly convicted and received the same sentence, though the judge added that had the jury known his record they might not have recommended mercy and he would have to be very careful in future.42 The same judge heard the appeal of Roy Stanley, who on 1 July had been awarded four months’ gaol for urging workers to stop the Imperialist war as they would get nothing even out of victory. The judge thought that he had been properly sentenced, his speech having been worse than those of the other two, but was loth to allow a sentence which appeared heavier, and thought that justice would be done if the sentence were halved.43

Meanwhile in Wellington two men, declaring from the dock that they must tell others the truth as they saw it and that punishment would make a martyr, light a torch, were each sentenced by the Chief Justice to a year in prison, the maximum penalty. On 10 March in the Trades Hall A. Galbraith, the local Communist party chairman, had said in a waterfront dispute that workers were being exploited in the war by the ruling classes and should form councils of action.44 Douglas Martin, a former Presbyterian minister and a pacifist who had become a Communist, on 19 May had chaired a Trades Hall meeting called to protest against the imprisonment of Burton and Lyttle which was given a second purpose—to warn and to prepare against the growing threat of conscription. Also, on 26 May, he had chaired a Miramar meeting against conscription and Fascism in New Zealand. Sir Michael Myers explained that though conscription was not in force at the time, it was subversive to hinder recruiting. Widespread feeling that voluntary enlistment was unfair might have restricted recruiting unless it was clear that conscription would soon be applied; hence it was a proper inference that delay in enacting conscription, and certainly anti-conscription agitation, would be calculated to restrict recruiting. Normally a man might speak out his belief in pacifism, Communism, etc, but in time of dire peril to the State he must keep silent; the prime purpose of law in such times was to preserve the safety of the people, hence the emergency regulations. These men were enemies within the gates, page 216 attacking the safety of the people at the very root, and their offences were much worse than ordinary criminality.45

At the same time W. McAra, a well-known Communist, was acquitted by his jury. His speech at the 19 May meeting had been mainly quotations from Semple, Fraser, Thorn46 and others in 1916. It was, said Myers, much less inflammatory than Martin’s; it was a rambling discourse by a misguided person which should never have been made, but that did not mean that it was subversive. He warned, however, that people could not with impunity quote statements made by others 20 years ago that would be subversive today.47 Earlier, a non-communist speaker at this meeting had been acquitted in the Magistrates’ Court. A major of the last war and a rejected volunteer of 1940, W. G. Bishop,48 went there to speak for Burton, who he thought was suffering injustice. The prosecution suggested that his statements were intended or likely to interfere with recruiting, but A. M. Goulding SM49 thought that his record made such intention improbable, and his speech, though ‘injudicious and unfortunate in some respects’, was not inflammatory or subversive.50

Meanwhile the government had struck at the main source of communist printing, the press of the People’s Voice. On 26 May, in the speech that promised conscription ‘as required’, spoken above the rising outcry against Communists, subversion, and government insufficiency, Fraser had said that subversive propaganda would be stopped: ‘The leaflets which have been flooding the Dominion have not done much harm, but the people and the Government are in no mood to stand any more of it.’51 On 29 May new Censorship and Publicity Regulations (1940/93) empowered the Attorney-General to seize any press that had printed subversive material and was likely to do so again; in like case, to order any periodical to cease publication. Accordingly, on 30 May the People’s Voice was suppressed and its machines taken by the police.

page 217

The editorial of the issue which had just been printed, dated 31 May, exemplified its view of the war:

The New Zealand working class today faces the gravest crisis of its existence. All that two generations of politically conscious workers have fought to achieve is now at stake.

The hyenas of capitalist reaction, the enemies of the New Zealand people, see in the extended bloody slaughter in Europe the opportunity for which they have waited so long….

Nazi-ism threatens the people of New Zealand today—not primarily through the German military successes—but primarily through the pupils of Hitler in New Zealand, who are more concerned with winning their war against the New Zealand working class than they are with the outcome of events in Europe….

Those who left the bridges standing against which the enemies of the working class are now advancing are those who were pledged to defend them—the leaders of the Labour Party. They have proved themselves the ‘Fifth Column’ of capitalist reaction in the Labour movement of this country.

The People’s Voice continued underground, in meagre form. Restriction condensed its stridency. In its issues of a few cyclostyled foolscap sheets it set party devotees quite impossible targets of class struggle. It did not oppose the war against Hitler, as such, but trenchantly attacked every aspect of its management; it spoke of war on two fronts but was solely concerned with that on the home front. At Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch separate pamphlets were produced. On 5 September it was widely reported that some boys had found a duplicator and papers in a damp cave three miles from Papatoetoe, but generally the leaflets were produced now in one house, now in another. The Wellington leaflet on 26 September 1940 stated that since the suppression 14 editions totalling 11 200 copies, had been circulated in the Wellington district, sold for £140, and a further £100 had been donated. In mid-October the Wellington production began calling itself Tribune, and in September that of Christchurch became Torch, which lasted till early 1941, when it was the only illegal paper still being published.52 A People’s Voice reappeared on 21 May 1941 remarking that just over six months had passed since its last issue.53

According to the police, ‘distribution was exceedingly well organised and done in the utmost secrecy’.54 But when its agents were page 218 discovered they did not escape lightly. A young Wellington taxi-driver, W. McCready, found on 12 July with 50 copies of the People’s Voice dated 10 July was censured by Sir Hubert Ostler55 for an offence far worse than theft, affecting the well-being of every member of the community, a real danger to the British Empire in its lone-handed struggle. The jury, however, recommended mercy, so McCready got nine months’ hard labour instead of twelve.56

Again, when E. Harrison, janitor of Weir House, a Wellington university hostel, was found with three copies of a booklet, Peace and Socialism, published in May, and six copies of Tribune of 15 October 1940 (the first of that name), Mr Justice Johnston said that the maximum 12 months was a light penalty in the circumstances, and that an offence against the State was accentuated when committed by a man whose good character gave him a job that was an excellent distribution centre. He gave little weight to a declaration from the students that Harrison had never attempted to spread subversive propaganda. To the grand jury the judge remarked that in most countries such an offender would be shot without trial, but in New Zealand the matter had to go before a jury.57

Earlier, at the end of August 1940, lamp-posts in several Wellington areas were stuck with crude leaflets from the underground, issued by the Peace and Anti-Conscription Council, which had for some time seemed defunct. The leaflets blamed three Cabinet ministers for the shipboard miscarriage by the wife of an Australian Communist, K. Bronson, prominent in the anti-conscription movement, who had been deported in June. It ended, ‘Mothers! Would you entrust your son’s life to these people?’ The police, led by complaints of disloyal statements and Communism, found J. Kelman, a barber, with 127 copies and party instructions; Stout SM, saying that the leaflets were scurrilous and subversive, sentenced him to a year in gaol.58 This was upheld on appeal by rehearing before Sir Hubert Ostler: the attack on the ministers, though grossly libellous, was not subversive; but, with the feelings of hatred this worked up, the purpose of the final words was to make women hostile to enlistment or conscription.59

One communist trial eclipsed all others, for in it press censorship was exercised to screen temporarily in the interests of public serenity a high official’s indiscretion. Late in 1940 at Christchurch, H. A. page 219 Ostler and T. C. Christie, local secretary of the Communist party, were charged with publishing subversive statements by producing the cyclostyled People’s Voice.60 On trial in February 1941 Ostler, besides technical points, argued freedom of speech: the criticisms of the Voice were reasonable, and though it attacked capitalism and the lies of the New Zealand press, while upholding socialism and Russia, socialism’s only exponent, this was not subversive for New Zealand was not at war with Russia.61 But Alec Ostler, the son of a judge, also told the Court that the Solicitor-General, H. H. Cornish,62 had sought to bargain with him: Cornish had met him and suggested that he himself, the Attorney-General, and the Prime Minister would drop the prosecution if Ostler would put aside Communism and quietly join the Army, where a comfortable post could be found.63 Ostler and Christie both received the maximum penalty, 12 months’ hard labour.64 Their petition for bail while preparing their appeal, signed by more than 1300 persons,65 was refused and their appeal was dismissed.66

Communists were credited, rightly or wrongly, with having distributed leaflets urging those called in ballots to refuse military service. On Monday 7 October 1940, many Christchurch men called in the first territorial ballot a week earlier found a circular delivered overnight, urging them not to serve. Timaru and Ashburton received the like by post. The Press reported that the circulars were distributed ‘practically throughout New Zealand’, though it referred specifically only to Christchurch, Ashburton and Timaru. Semple said that it was a foul and treacherous document, the most treasonable he had ever read, and its wide distribution showed a large organisation, the ‘fifth-column’ against which he had warned so often. The Mayor of Christchurch thought that distribution was probably general, and not the work of pacifists but of Communists.67

Several papers repeated these explosive Christchurch opinions. A solitary copy of the circular reached Dunedin, from which the Evening Star of 10 October concluded that its 900 words were well page 220 written and designed to ‘drive the foul message home’. The Canterbury Provincial Committee of the Communist party firmly denied all responsibility, condemning the leaflet as provocative and contrary to communist propaganda.68 Certainly the party did not propose pacifism,69 but otherwise its opposition to the war was total. It seems probable, though it is mere guess-work, that this anti-Service circular might have been put out by the Peace and Anti-Conscription Council which was strong in leftist circles at Christchurch.

After the second territorial ballot of 7 November, a similar circular was more widely scattered. According to the Auckland Star of 16 November and the Standard of the 28th, it reproduced the first circular but also attacked Semple and the Standard, and stated: ‘Whatever happens, stand firm against the attempts of the Government, family and friends to force you into a uniform.’ Though the extracts quoted by the Star had a communist sound, it was anonymous. The issue was confused further by the Christian Pacifist Society’s Conscientious Objectors Committee which, at about the same time, sent out to some 1200 men chosen at random brief notices offering to help the conscience-troubled with information; these, of course, were not anonymous.70

In Auckland, late in November, the slogan ‘No more troops for overseas’ appeared in white paint on some Papakura lamp-posts, without any arrests being made.71 The first overseas ballot on 5 December 1940 was greeted in Dunedin with night-delivered cyclostyled criticism of the government’s war policy,72 while in Auckland police caught four men with stickers saying ‘No more troops overseas, New Zealand comes first.’ One man against whom there was no direct evidence was acquitted; another, convicted of posting stickers, got four months; two, who also had copies of a subversive pamphlet Forward, got six months each. They claimed that the slogan was reasonable criticism and in the nation’s interest, but Mr Justice Fair said that exemplary punishment was needed; the war effort must page 221 not be made ineffective by disputes among New Zealanders—propaganda of this kind led to the fall of France.73

Stickers and chalk signs appeared more frequently in the streets than did accounts of them in the newspapers, which usually reported them only in court proceedings, that is, when someone was caught. Editors were asked by the Censor not to mention such things as it was the object of the Communists to obtain wide publicity from relatively small efforts.74 In May, with very minor press notices, two Christchurch Communists, E. A. Jackson, who had eight copies of Torch and 64 ‘No more troops overseas’ stickers, and H. J. Greatorex, who had five copies of Torch, were sent to prison for 12 months, Mr Justice Northcroft remarking that Jackson was clearly a menace to the community and it would be appropriate if he could be imprisoned for the duration of the war.75

The Justice Department in 1940 recorded 59 charges of ‘subversive statements, making, publishing, etc.’ Of nine heard in the Supreme Court, eight were convicted; 37 were convicted in the Magistrates’ Court, and 13 dismissed.76 Some were Jehovah’s Witnesses and one was plain anti-British, but the majority were Communists, as were all of those going to the Supreme Court. In 1941 there were six subversive offences. Thus popular excitement about subversion in 1940 produced relatively few charges, and for some the grounds appear rather slight. The above resumé of cases may also suggest that while the Bench was not carried away by popular alarm, magistrates and judges were not uniform in their attitudes to subversion. Some felt that the dangers of the hour called for the silencing of all anti-war utterances by maximum penalties, often remarking how much tougher punishment would be in Russia. Others, despite personal antipathy, stuck to the law simply as the law, weighing greater and lesser offences. Some alternated between the two attitudes. It must be remembered that the law is not consistent or even-handed in any field or at any time, though it may try to be.

It was widely believed that Communists dominated many trade unions: certainly they tried to do so, and held leading positions in page 222 a few. But at the Federation of Labour conference in 1940 the communist delegates’ proposals for immediate peace, for the recognition of the rights of all nations including Czechoslovakia, India, Ireland and Poland to national independence, for complete disarmament and immediate advance of socialism, were defeated by 224 votes to 26.77 Again, in April 1941, their motion that in the interests of the working class New Zealand should withdraw from the war gained only 27 votes, against 229.78

Communists were held to be at the root of all industrial disputes, before, during and after the war. A notable instance occurred in March 1941, among the 1600 men of the Hutt railway workshops.79 Semple declared that the trouble was caused by a handful of Communists taking instructions from a foreign source.80 Fraser said fervently in Parliament on 19 March that if necessary he would again impose total censorship:

The Communist party in this country, not yet declared illegal but meeting as if it were an illegal organisation, in groups here and there, discusses matters like the railway workshops, plans trouble in them, and its agents carry out the plans. One of its methods is publicity—a resolution is framed, not expressing the honest opinion of those involved, but framed for propaganda purposes in order to stir up the other workers of the Dominion by misrepresentation. Do members of this House imagine that the Government is going to allow members of the Communist party to use such ammunition?81

In the outcry against censorship, the Auckland Star on 20 March noted that all the men, including the handful of Communists blamed for the trouble, were back at work: if they were so dangerous surely it was necessary for the government to apply war regulations against them, rather than against the press. On 5 April the Star again asked why the government did nothing about the Communist party except abuse it; why was it not declared illegal? A correspondent in the same paper a month later wrote that the Communist party was not suppressed because it was useful: the government, having lost the support of many workers,

requires an Aunt Sally—a bogy. Communism serves this purpose. When the workers complain of broken promises or of betrayal, the cry of Communism is raised. This wolf-cry scares the workers who do not wish to appear to be allied with Communists. Any page 223 criticism, any complaint, becomes, ipso facto, Communistic…. Communism is a negligible quantity in the political life of the Dominion. The genuine, loyal workers would welcome its suppression. The party leaders and the industrial bosses make no effort to have it suppressed. It is too useful as a bogyman to silence the workers.82

The government had thought of suppression. On 26 March the Attorney-General had consulted the Commissioner of Police about the expediency of declaring the Communist party a subversive organisation. The Commissioner, replying on 7 April, was strongly in favour of doing so. The requisite orders were drafted but were not brought immediately into effect,83 and on 3 July the Attorney-General told the Commissioner that, as Russia’s entry to the war would probably modify communist activities, the proposed order would be deferred.84

Since Communists opposed the war it followed that all others who did so were tarred with the Bolshevik brush, and tolerance of them was merely licence. Thus an editorial early in January 1940 cautioned against imprudent liberalism. Citing some British students, the Evening Post assailed a ‘so-called intelligensia’ [sic] to whom all wars were imperialistic and Russia always right, even when allied to Nazism and attacking Finland; New Zealand too had excessively vocal minorities like the West Coast Trades and Labour Council, which called the war an imperialist struggle. Such anti-social elements within the freedom of democracy might be dangerous in times of crisis and, while not a reason for suppressing freedom of speech, called for vigilance and surveillance by authority.85

To one side, the issue was freedom of speech; to the other, it was subversion. Some held that unless they uttered their doubts and criticisms they were already forsaking one of the principles for which the war was being fought. Others (including the Chief Justice) held that while a person was legally entitled to any beliefs such as Communism or pacifism he must, while the State was in danger, keep them to himself. Said Hislop, Mayor of Wellington, ‘I stand for freedom of speech as much as anyone but there are limits to freedom of speech’.86 A manufacturer said that there was a lot of loose talk page 224 about preserving democracy at all costs, but to win the war ‘democracy would have to sacrifice some of its minor conveniences and take its war shape’:87 become, as it were, slimmer. The National party caucus warned against the cancerous growth of organised subversive propaganda not only by supporters of foreign influences, but by some high officials of the Labour party, even by members of Parliament and by employees of the State.88 A magistrate, J. H. Luxford, summed up the apprehensions and linked ideas of many: ‘The insidious attack from within may be just as dangerous as that from without. It may be launched under the guise of pacifism, freedom of conscience or of speech, or any other of these simple devices an unscrupulous and cunning enemy uses or causes to be used by unsuspecting cranks or dupes to disrupt order and good government and render the country less able to defend itself from without.’ He called for complete subordination of sectional interests: any attempt to redress grievance, even genuine grievance, by direct action or the threat of it was tantamount to treason. It was better that a grievance should go unredressed while national existence was threatened than that the ground should be prepared for harvest by the Red sickle. The biggest fraud ever perpetrated upon the world was the Marxist doctrine that all men were equal, and the consequent demand for world revolution to bring about government by the proletariat. No sane person denied that all men have equal rights to social and legal justice but it was a monstrous fallacy to think all men equal; the proletariat never had ruled and never could rule in accordance with Marxist theory. The germs of Marxism had been disseminated in British countries and it was the duty of every citizen to sterilise them quickly. A form of propaganda recurring several times since the war began was the demand that the Allies should state their war aims. ‘I firmly believe’, said Luxford, ‘that this demand has been fostered by the enemy. It is an attempt to embroil us in internal controversy and weaken our war effort by making people ask, “What are we fighting for, anyway?” Let me say, as forcefully as I can, if we start public discussions on war aims before we have won the war we will be doing one of the things the enemy wants us to do.’89 This statement was widely printed, and the Otago Daily Times of 18 March backed it with a be-wigged photograph.

Irritation with the running of the war, plus anger growing out of fear for sons, husbands, lovers, brothers or friends in the Army, or likely to be there, directed itself, assisted by the press, against those page 225 opposing or criticising the war itself: ‘the intellectuals’, the WEA, the Left Book Club, the universities, the education system. To some, a wide range of even mildly non-conformist opinion appeared anti-British, disloyal and, by implication if not directly, pro-Russian. Teachers were a predictable target. Many responsible teachers, knowing that their pupils would have the task of making the peace work, were anxious that they should come to it with minds free from war fervour and hate. Consequently their words, especially when subject to juvenile reporting, often did not satisfy war-excited parents. Even before 1939 it was not uncommon for vague general charges to be made that teachers, from primary schools to universities, were tainted with disloyalty, or anti-Britishness, or communism. These charges, often in anonymous letters to newspapers and to educational authorities, multiplied as the war deepened. It must be remembered that newspapers may select and even produce letters that endorse their own viewpoint. The following by ‘A New Zealander’ is a succinct example:

Slowly, insidiously, unchecked, an influence has been permeating our land. We dare no longer live in a fool’s paradise. We must face this menace of Communism. Yes, we have indeed been lax. How long are we going to pay men simply to influence, by propaganda and destructive criticism, the youth of our land—those who in a few short years will be holding positions of trust.90

Sometimes quite minor activities were taken as evidence of communist influences, such as lack of zest in singing the national anthem.91 A committee of the Board of Governors of Otago Girls’ High School believed that the loyalty of teachers could be determined by whether or not they attended morning assembly and stood for ‘God Save the King’;92 a writer to the New Zealand Herald on 26 June thought that this test could be applied by all head teachers.

In mid-March 1940 the Dunedin RSA expressed anxiety about extensive communist propaganda in high schools, universities and public libraries, advocating the dismissal of any public servants involved.93 Letters in the Otago Daily Times vigorously supported this attack, while a few opposed it, including one by Dr D. G. McMillan MP in defence of the Left Book Club.94 The Otago Education Board rapidly expressed faith in its teachers, saying that even if some did not conform to ideas generally held, that did not necessarily mean they were disloyal. In at least two districts there were page 226 similar moves: the Pukekohe RSA echoed Dunedin’s protest,95 while at Ruawai, Northern Wairoa, a Welfare Association was established to guard the district against anti-British communist propaganda.96

On 11 April the Dunedin RSA arranged a meeting representative of local bodies and political and sporting organisations. It was called a ‘Communist-hunt’ by all the main dailies, and most speakers held that the communist menace, though not yet formidable, was capable of spreading dangerously, especially in war time, and there was special mention of the WEA. Counter measures were discussed, such as forming an RSA national defence corps, ready to march at 24 hours’ notice; strict enforcement of regulations against meetings and the distribution of pamphlets, and inducing the saner members of trade unions to be as active as the Communists in union affairs. No decisions were made as few were authorised to vote for the bodies they represented, but further discussion was to take place in those bodies. The local Chamber of Commerce and the Territorial Association applauded, while the Otago Daily Times warned that ‘Red prophets in pink cloaks’ who used union membership or State positions to spread corrupting propaganda and subvert youth were more dangerous now than recognised Communists, and were perhaps the most difficult problem of the moment.97 The Director of the WEA demanded specific charges,98 and Chancellor W. J. Morrell99 vigorously defended Otago University and the WEA against vague general accusations;100 the Minister of Defence reminded that the Allies were fighting for freedom of opinion, provided it was not detrimental to the war effort.101

On 3 May the annual conference of the NZRSA demanded that communist activities be investigated and any persons involved be sacked from governmental or public office. Newspapers, notably the Otago Daily Times, had letters attacking universities and teachers in general, in such terms as:

History is perverted by these [so-called intellectuals] to serve their ends, and pupils of all ages have their minds poisoned.

These people are the most dangerous class in the community. Many of them, directly supported by the State, are using all their influence … to create an undercurrent of feeling hostile to the page 227 national interest. The noisy Communist is easily tracked down; the danger from ‘the intellectual’ is that he works in the dark. If challenged he maintains that he is merely a ‘Leftist’—a term which now serves as a cloak apparently for the pacifist, the anti-Godist, and every type of subterranean revolutionary. The activities of these subversive individuals are a challenge to constituted authority. When are our national, civic, and educational authorities going to take action?102

On 21 May, as the Blitzkrieg crisis gathered, an RSA deputation asked the Otago University Council to inquire into subversive elements on its staff, adding that they could name such. The Council decided to set up a committee of inquiry and asked the RSA to submit evidence. The RSA refused, saying that the Council should have its staff and WEA tutors answer a questionnaire on their attitudes to the Crown and the war, and listing the pacifist or leftist societies with which they had been associated.103 Dr C. E. Hercus,104 dean of the medical faculty and himself a returned soldier, said that the RSA had made sweeping and damaging assertions on hearsay evidence, that it could not support definite charges and should put its energy into more constructive war effort.105 At an RSA meeting a minority criticised the executive106 for making unsustained charges, but the majority commended its courteous, tactful and able methods, suggesting further that a royal commission should inquire into the loyalty of the whole educational and library system, claiming that not only should definitely subversive acts be dealt with, but the influence, atmosphere and curricula of the universities should be reviewed.107 The RSA executive, in skilful rearguard action, explained that it had sought to draw the Council’s attention to growing public criticism of some of its staff, maintained that academic tolerance of anti-British discussion should cease, and that the Council should have made a domestic investigation without waiting for outside evidence ‘given in confidence, which could not accordingly be used’; instead, the Council had held that its staff was innocent until proved otherwise, which view might be justified in peace but not during war. However, the RSA executive believed that publicity had checked page 228 at least some of the evil.108 Thereafter, the RSA took its anxieties to the Otago Farmers’ Union, from which the Dominion conference passed a remit calling for drastic government action to stop all subversive propaganda and to dismiss all government employees concerned.109 The Women’s Division resolved to be on school boards and committees to see that children were trained to loyal and patriotic standards.110

Meanwhile the Auckland Education Board on 19 June declared alarm at the increase of communist activities, wanted searching inquiry into their source and growth, and urged that the civil service should be closed to all concerned in such. A motion before the Canterbury School Committees’ Association in support of academic freedom to teach unpopular philosophies, and regretting unjustified attacks on university teachers, was defeated 19:7. The chairman remarked ‘You are dealing with Communism’.111 In the House, J. A. Roy112 of Clutha, who had not had time to check a complaint that things a child said he had been taught were definitely disloyal, wanted to know the Minister’s attitude if the complaint should be found true. The Minister replied swiftly that he would exert all his powers to see that no disloyal teacher was in the schools, but it was unfair to bring forward such a report without verifying it.113

The New Zealand Educational Institute complained that widespread vague attacks, irresponsible and anonymous, were being made through press and radio;114 so did the chairman of the Canterbury Education Board.115 The Minister of Education on 20 June said that despite much talk of subversive teachers, no education board or school governing body, or the Department or he himself had been told of any real instance; proper complaints could be made close at hand to school committees, who had certain powers to remove or suspend teachers, but irresponsible allegations were unjust. The Press on 5 June urged anyone who knew or thought he knew a fact about a subversive propagandist to take it to the nearest police station, not merely pass on talk while complaining of government apathy; on 25 June it criticised the Dunedin RSA: ‘If they have evidence they page 229 should produce it…. If they have no evidence they have no charge and should make none’. The New Zealand Observer of 5 June said that Communists had ‘a certain qualified support among the liberal and academic classes’, but these were neither disloyal nor revolutionary. ‘A great deal of what passes for Communism is actually a sort of intellectual effervescence, which is certainly preferable to complete mental inertia, and does not in the long run do much harm.’

In the House, on 12 July 1940, C. W. Boswell116 defended teachers who had been accused of subversion all over the country and, amid outcry from the Opposition, said that a Communist could be a good citizen if he did nothing subversive. ‘We do not gaol men merely because they are Communists but we do gaol men if they are subversive.’ He added that it would be a good thing if the interpretation of ‘subversive’ included any untrue statement alleging disloyalty against perfectly loyal people.117 Clyde Carr, pleading for freedom of thought even if there could not now be full freedom of speech, quoted Mr Justice Ostler who some months earlier had said, ‘This is a free country, and any person can hold any political views he likes. He is doing nothing illegal being a Communist and holding Communistic views. He only does something illegal when he does anything seditious.’ People must be careful in war time, continued Carr, not to destroy liberty of thought, not to cherish personal enmity, animus and vindictiveness against others simply because their ideas differed.118

The disciplinary zeal of education boards varied: the basic attitudes of their members were not uniform, but as time passed liberalism was inevitably eroded by events and the changing climate of ideas. The Wellington Board in April 1940 refused to take action about a teacher who had chaired a pacifist meeting.119 The Auckland Board on 19 June had expressed alarm at communist activity, and in August, having disregarded a number of anonymous letters, investigated a training college student who, according to such a letter, had ‘boasted’ of intending to teach communism. In this the Board was backed by the Minister who declared strongly against the spreading of communism in schools, as it carried with it a view of life destructive of morals, religion and human values, the antithesis page 230 of everything desired from education.120 In November the Auckland Board, having received a letter from the Minister giving details of the meetings attended by two probationary teachers, asked the Department to withhold their certificates; though they had as yet done nothing against the law they should not be in the schools as they had taken part in political activities of a communist nature.121 It soon after dismissed a young woman reported to have refused to salute the flag.122

This withholding of certificates produced a conflict very similar to that between the Dunedin RSA and Otago University. Professor P. W. Burbidge,123 though ‘totally unacquainted’ with the persons thus deprived, thought that the Board’s action, in banning them not on professional grounds but for their political opinions, called for vigorous protest from those who valued freedom. There were laws to protect the community from subversion and conspiracy, but this sort of proscription could spread dangerously. ‘It belongs to Berlin, is modelled on Moscow, and tainted with Tennessee.’124 Sixteen members of the Auckland University College Council and staff then also protested, claiming that a person should not be penalised for political views so long as he did not use his position for political propaganda. As the action was initiated by an anonymous letter, the Education Board had given public recognition to a cowardly attack, repugnant to British traditions, a Nazi method which could expose any public servant to menace by unscrupulous persons.125 Two members of the College Council and staff openly objected to this view,126 and another correspondent pointed out that only a small part of the Council and staff numbering 77 had protested.127 Some Board members agreed that disloyalty had not been proved, but others attacked the University itself and the WEA for teaching communism underground and corrupting young teachers. One, F. A. Snell,128 said that page 231 the Board’s right to accept those it thought fit to teach children and reject others was being challenged. It was time that the Minister had a purge of the universities and ‘cleaned this element right out.’ The chairman of the Board, W. J. Campbell, declared that for years there had been complaints about the university, the keystone of the educational arch, and no doubt the police would be glad to have the names of those signing the protest.129 When W. H. Cocker,130 president of the College Council, asked for instances of these complaints,131 Campbell said that Cocker was retreating behind a legalistic red herring, and was obviously himself in sympathy with the subversive elements at the University, adding that this was now a personal matter, not one for Board action.132 Cocker replied that this was sheer nonsense and probably libellous, and advised production of evidence or silence.133 There the public exchange ended, but in the next two months the Board received several approving letters, three from school committees, while another school committee wanted to confirm that the Board had acted upon an anonymous letter; a branch of Lee’s Democratic Labour party, and five trade unions protested.134 At its February meeting the Auckland University College Council strongly disapproved of Campbell’s making public charges and refusing to support them.135 The Board however had the last move, for it required its teachers to reaffirm their oaths of allegiance; only 6 out of more than 2400 did not do so.136

Dunedin’s RSA had led the attack against the enemy who did not sabotage factories or bridges but who might distort young minds. Returned soldiers sincerely felt themselves necessary guardians against the inner enemy, alien or native born, and the community likewise largely felt that they were experienced and competent in all fields of defence. The Wellington RSA in the May crisis had advised its members to report all subversive activities to the police.137 In Christchurch the RSA secretary commended public keenness to wipe out the Fifth Column by reporting to the RSA office persons either making unpatriotic statements or thought to be potentially dangerous page 232 aliens.138 The information was passed on to the police when warranted. An article in the New Zealand Herald on 12 June139 said that government measures had not fully allayed public concern. Recently, returned soldiers, meeting at regimental reunions, had been discussing possible dangers. Some indignantly, some sadly, spoke of complacent handling by civilian Ministers who could not understand the effrontery and daring of trained spies and the Fifth Column. ‘These ex-soldiers who are not readily disturbed or inclined to submit to mass emotion’ had talked of land-buying by refugees in certain areas, of foreigners at meetings of a communist character, of the local Jewish community being hoodwinked by spies sent out in the eviction to establish an organisation behind the lines; they wanted a ‘thorough clean-up’ of aliens.

This expression of anxiety was directed mainly against aliens, but others were alert for the local subversives. Their line of thought was conveyed by a letter signed ‘Remember Narvik’, which explained to other writers, ‘Anti-Hun’ and ‘Safety First’, that

the real enemy in our midst is not the unfortunate refugees, but the Communists, with allegiance sworn to Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany’s partner and first cousin in frightfulness, treachery and anti-Godliness. These constitute the fifth column danger here in case of invasion. Mr Semple could, if he would, tell us who are responsible—and have been for years—for go-slow policy, stop work meetings, strikes in mines and on wharves, sabotage and general mischief-making in the ranks of the workers…. This is where New Zealand should start its home defence by interning the ringleaders, who are unfortunately now well entrenched in key positions.140

The New Zealand Permanent Forces Old Comrades Association passed Colonel T. W. McDonald’s motion to report any subversion, adding that if the authorities did not take adequate action in reasonable time the Association would do all in its power to bring the offenders to account; they did not have to be Nazis or Fascists, there were far more Communists than all the others combined. Further, it elected two senior policemen to its executive.141 Six weeks later the Wellington RSA at a special meeting set up a vigilance committee. Proposing it, A. B. Sievwright142 referred to Semple’s Home Guard-raising remarks about a Fifth Column and thought that people page 233 would go to a citizen’s committee with information more readily than to the police, to whom the committee could pass it on. H. Haycock spoke of earlier pacifist meetings, saying that he had told the Commissioner of Police ‘that if the police did not prevent this sort of thing we would make a regular Donnybrooke in the streets’; the police had acted firmly and pacifist meetings had ceased. The police now had too much work; he was sure that they would welcome vigilance committees, which he hoped would appear in every city. Other speakers warned against various forms of subversion and Colonel McDonald reminded that such people were in the schools, influencing children.143 A lawyer, Eaton Hurley, protested that such a body would undermine and embarrass the police,144 while Truth declared that ‘Vigil-Aunties or Cooper’s Snoopers’145 were not wanted in New Zealand, or it might as well accept secret police of the Gestapo sort.146 No further groups appear to have been formed.

Despite all the patriotic fervour of mid-1940, it seems that only one prosecution resulted from information directly laid by citizens, though it is probable that many more tales of subversive speech or actions were taken to the police by those anxious or zealous. Four railway surfacemen working in the Lyttelton tunnel, disturbed by the anti-British, pro-Nazi talk of their ganger, went to the police. The ganger, W. E. Aitken, was charged with saying, on 24 May, ‘I do not care if the British get beaten’, ‘I would just as soon be under Hitler as under the British Government’, ‘We would be better off under Nazi rule, anyone who goes to fight for the British Empire is a fool’; and on 21 June, ‘I hope the Pommy … get beaten’, ‘I would rather fight for the Nazis than the British Empire’, ‘I would never fight for Britain’. In court it appeared that he was ‘not an agitator’, and that these statements had been made in arguments, but similar remarks had been reiterated over several months. His counsel urged that the regulations were concerned with statements made to larger groups of people. The Crown agreed that it was not a case of a member of the intelligentsia putting over specious and insidious arguments to a large crowd; fortunately these statements were made to men ‘strongminded, honest and decent, and not likely to be swayed in their loyalties’, but E. C. Levvey SM,147 saying that page 234 these offences were very serious, sentenced him to six month’s hard labour.148

Nine months later a similar charge was tried: a railway carpenter, in a Timaru barber’s shop after a few beers and thinking he was among friends, produced a pamphlet about censoring news of strikes. He said that if such Fascist methods continued he might as well be under Hitler as under Fascist Churchill and Fascist Fraser; that those going to the war were ‘bloody fools’. Mr Justice Northcroft warned the jury against the natural indignation of British subjects hearing such words and urged a calm, dispassionate approach. The man was acquitted.149

Some pacifists and Communists directly opposing the war were imprisoned for subversion, but the only organisation as such declared subversive was a religious sect, Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. This world-wide organisation originating in America in 1879 was active in Australia, where it had a printing press. In New Zealand it had, by the 1936 census, only 450 members but they proselytized vigorously, playing records through loudspeakers from cars. By car, bicycle and on foot they went from house to house distributing pamphlets and preaching their message. Holding that the end of the world was not far off, they urged people to study the Bible, forsaking established religions and clergy who weakened the strong truth of Jehovah’s word. They asserted the authority of Jehovah God above all other authority, thus refusing to salute flags, take oaths of allegiance or serve in armed forces; they believed that those chosen by Jehovah as his servants, his special flock, must teach others.

The Police Department War History Narrative states that their canvassers gave offence by their intrusiveness and by their pamphlets. These attacked other religions, especially Roman Catholicism which they alleged was the cause of world unrest and the war; they contained defeatist statements such as that ‘Hitler would win the war but after that God would destroy Hitler and Hitlerism’ and advocated a ‘Government of the peoples of earth administered by the immediate direction of Almighty God’.150 Army Headquarters stated on 21 February 1940 that in some cases Witnesses had discouraged page 235 enlistment, and in some districts it was reported they had an unsettling, mischievous effect on Maoris.151

The Roman Catholic Church had long complained of this sect,152 and in August 1940 declared that the Witnesses of Jehovah were a religious body but not Christians: ‘To attribute the anarchical, subversive and mendacious rubbish which appears under the name of an American ex-convict and bogus judge to Christ is blasphemy, even if it be unconscious blasphemy on the part of most of the “Witnesses” …. Scurrilous lying sectarian venom and theories subversive of all law and order have nothing in common with the Gospel of Christ.’153 A reprint in the Anglican Church Chronicle was similar: ‘Perhaps the most debased of modern heresies is that cult known as “Rutherfordism” or Jehovah’s Witnesses…. The Church must realise that this is a virulent and dangerous attack. Masquerading as a religion, and claiming all the privileges of such, it spends its whole energy on traducing the British Empire and calumniating the clergy and congregations of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by our Lord.’154

Truth on 10 July 1940 claimed to have received many complaints in the previous two years of people being pestered by ‘canvassers of offensive trash’ who ‘littered the country with lying scurrilous propaganda’; it said that Canada had recently outlawed the sect, and called for similar government action against ‘the activities of this crowd of racketeers and the religious mania they are developing right under our noses.’ Further articles stressed subversion.155 Perhaps stimulated by the Canadian ban, the New Zealand government, through the Customs and Postal departments, stopped the import of pamphlets, and in August the police seized stocks at the sect’s Wellington headquarters, but supplies were already well scattered.156

On 7 August the Observer had reported Australian agitation against Jehovah’s Witnesses: the visit of their leader, Judge Rutherford,157 to Australia was opposed by the Returned Servicemen’s League, while the governments of New South Wales and Tasmania wanted to ban them as subversive in that they taught converts not to fight and to page 236 refuse to recognise the King. In New Zealand there had been similar outcry but, said the Observer, ‘there is no evidence whatever of any subversive activities’; they might have unusual ideas about certain conventions normal to loyal and patriotic citizens, such as saluting the flag and standing for the national anthem, but these things, while reprehensible, did not amount to active disloyalty. The sect’s Auckland secretary, Robert Reid, stated that for Jehovah’s Witnesses, loyalty to King and country was quite secondary to the cause of Christ, but otherwise they shared in normal patriotic feelings and in detestation of Hitler; a few had sons in the fighting forces. They obeyed the laws of the land except where these conflicted with the laws of God, which meant that they must not take part in any movement that would prevent them from preaching the Gospel, or would bring about the death of a fellow man. They had no political affiliations; in Russia they were persecuted and 6000 Witnesses were in Nazi concentration camps. In Auckland there were about 150 brethren, not all of them canvassers, and many adherents.158

Flag saluting in schools raised a few unhappy little issues. According to letters in the Taranaki Daily News it led to one man, a returned soldier, being dismissed from his job as a cheesemaker. He had asked, when his 5-year-old daughter started school, that she be excused from religious ceremonies and flag saluting. The school did not perform these rites but ‘this was seized on by some self-styled super-patriots and brought before the directors of the dairy company who are reported to have unanimously voted on the dismissal of the father of this child from their employ’.159 In a few cases where parents asked that children be excused from flag saluting teachers and school committees were uneasy. To one teacher, who asked if she should suspend such pupils, the Wellington Board replied that it had no authority to enforce attendance; in a general sense, flag saluting was a history lesson, and pupils, for conscientious reasons, could stay away from history lessons.160 The Timaru South school committee reluctantly accepted the Canterbury Board’s ruling that such children should be ‘tactfully excluded’ where there was no doubt about the religious conviction.161 The Witnesses explained their attitude to flags in letters to papers, asking, ‘Is it right to compel people to salute a flag?’, referring to God’s specific commandment against it (Exodus XX, 3–5), and stating that Jehovah’s Witnesses were in Fascist and Nazi prisons on this issue. They were refusing the ceremony not page 237 because they were disloyal to the country, but because their first loyalty was to Jehovah God.162

A more unhappy incident occurred on 13 October at Oamaru. A meeting had gathered to hear a recorded speech, ‘Government and Peace’, by Judge Rutherford, the leader of the sect, that in New York’s Madison Square Garden had sparked a riot with the followers of Father Coughlan,163 the radio priest. A returned soldier, W. Meehan, armed with a rifle and bayonet and talking about Fifth Columnists, intruded. In a scuffle with the doorkeepers one man’s hand was cut with the bayonet and the rifle went off, wounding a man in the thigh.164 The Oamaru RSA secretary on 16 October telegraphed the NZRSA to urge the government, in view of this ‘tragic occurrence’ and strong public resentment, to ban the sect before more trouble occurred, referring to its Nazi and pacifist activities as expounded in Smith’s Weekly165 of 5 October, and complaining that Oamaru people had been much annoyed at the Witnesses advertising their meeting ‘by a loud speaker in public places, denouncing the Catholic religion in terms calculated to cause a breach of the peace’.166

The Police Department Narrative, referring to this, states that ‘at one place a serious act of violence was found to have arisen out of [the sect’s] activities. Having regard to all the circumstances, the Commissioner of Police, on 18 October 1940, referred the papers to the Prime Minister with the comment that its activities were a disturbing influence and it appeared that the movement could be declared a subversive organisation.’ The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General concurred in this view, and by a notice issued under section 2A of the Public Safety Regulations 1940, it was so declared on 21 October. It was thus an offence to use or permit to be used any premises for the purpose of the organisation; to put up page 238 any signs or to organise or address any meetings for any such purpose; to participate in, or to encourage in any way the organisation’s continuance, activities or objects, or by any badge or banner to identify oneself with or express approval of it.167

The Attorney-General, Mason, explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses had been unfavourably noticed for some time: their propaganda seemed devoted to vilifying other religions, the State and government. ‘Under each heading the propaganda was clearly subversive. It tended to disrupt national unity and destroy national morale when the nation was fighting for its life.’168 The Observer, on 30 October, held that whether or not Jehovah’s Witnesses were subversive, all who disliked religion clothed in strident commercialism would welcome the suppression of their activities. High-pressure sales methods had built a vast and wealthy organisation around the American Messiah, Judge Rutherford, and New Zealand could well do without such enterprises. ‘But it has taken the exigencies of war to bring about a prohibition which common sense had always demanded.’

There followed a small crop of prosecutions on charges of participating in the activities of a subversive organisation. Police, usually acting on information, found Jehovah’s Witnesses delivering pamphlets, or admitting posting pamphlets, or going to people’s houses to explain the Bible. Often they would not promise to cease doing such things. Sentences varied from three months in prison to fines of a few pounds or being ordered to come up for sentence within three months. Several charges were dismissed for insufficient evidence, or doubt whether the regulations applied: for example, when the police made what Truth called a ‘dramatic early morning raid’ on a tent by the Tutaekuri River, Napier, they found two young men and a boy with 363 books and 27 records, but no evidence that they had been selling them since the prohibition.169

The ban and the first arrests aroused some protests and questioning, causing the government to deny having suppressed a religious body as such. On 19 November the sect’s Australasian headquarters in Sydney cabled the King to restore Christian freedom to Jehovah’s Witnesses in New Zealand, saying that their homes had been raided page 239 by the police, standard Bibles confiscated and their study banned.170 The Australian Federal Attorney-General, W. M. Hughes,171 said that his government would ask New Zealand its reasons for the ban; Alexander Mair,172 Premier of New South Wales, had for some time claimed that their religious activities cloaked subversion, but so far the Federal government had not accepted this view. Hughes did not know what the position was in New Zealand, but under Australia’s constitution everybody was guaranteed freedom of religious belief. ‘It is said that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a religion. Perhaps that is a matter I am not competent to determine. Certainly I am not in favour of shutting people up simply because they do not believe what I believe. As far as I have heard, this sect seems to be a rather weird and barbaric interpretation of Christianity.’173

Fraser, commenting on the cable to the King, said that the government had not interfered with the right of people to worship according to their religious beliefs and conscience; if Jehovah’s Witnesses would confine themselves to ordinary religious observances there would be no interference.

The difficulties in New Zealand arose through Jehovah’s Witnesses constituting themselves a propaganda body against other churches, and thereby causing widespread ill-feeling, resentment and bitterness, which resulted in at least one unfortunate incident in this country. Such provocative conduct and incitement would be inimical at any time, and cannot be tolerated during wartime, when the greatest amount of unity—and co-operation—among members of all religious faiths is essential. There has been no interference with the right to worship; but there has been a prohibition imposed on the dissemination of literature and other propaganda directed against religious organisations.174

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A week later a writer to the Otago Daily Times, who claimed that he had no connection or sympathy with the sect and who had found in his letter-box a booklet Government and Peace, the substance of an address by Rutherford, suggested that in fair play some facts should be known; the booklet set out beliefs about God’s plan of the ages and the manner of the future establishment of Christ’s Kingdom on earth.175

In the House on 4 December 1940, F. W. Doidge wanted to know why the sect’s ‘pitiful rubbish’ should be suppressed; New Zealand was fighting for freedom of speech and in Australia and Great Britain it was not banned but presumably treated with the contempt it deserved.176 John A. Lee blew all round the compass: in Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature there was a good deal that did not accord with his opinions but he could not find anything subversive in it. ‘There was an attack on certain institutions which the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim played the Fascist game in Spain and destroyed democratic privilege.’ The community should not allow what would promote violent feeling between groups, but must respect others’ opinions. The Prime Minister and Attorney-General should provide means whereby Witnesses could express their viewpoint while refraining from all talk likely to produce a breach of peace. Lee did not favour pushing pamphlets on to people or hawking records denouncing certain churches, or effort by any creed, large or small, to thrust its doctrines down other people’s throats. Finally, he realised that to defend an obscure sect, with few votes, was politically risky.177

Fraser’s reply revealed a good deal of the current criticism. Opinions, harmless in normal times, might now become very dangerous, affecting the war effort and peaceful civil relationships. In war it was absolutely essential that there should be no sectarian warfare. He had himself requested representatives of the leading churches to refrain from anything leading thereto. ‘It is hard to lay down an exact rule’, continued Fraser, ‘but, after all, a man’s home is supposed to be his castle, and if people go to, say, a Catholic home and thrust into the hands of people there literature that was not sought and that attacks the dearest faith of those people, is not that looking for, and instigating trouble…. Does not the House think that the Government is absolutely justified in preventing that kind of thing? That is all that was done in regard to Jehovah’s Witnesses.’ The government would not object to literature that expressed only page 241 their own faith, without attacking others’. Every officer of the law did not have the cultural background necessary for enforcement of the law as it was intended to be enforced; some might not have recognised bibles, concordances etc, which did not come under any ban. But the government knew from the rumblings of the gathering storm that what had happened at Oamaru would happen all over the country: widespread acrimonious controversies, sectarian bitterness and religious enmity leading to trouble and violence. The government had no quarrel with Jehovah’s Witnesses as such and he hoped that the Attorney-General could make some arrangement whereby they could worship normally like other churches.178

Fraser had the unwonted support of Polson, who said that he had read in a recent Saturday Evening Post that it was necessary to suppress the sect in America, a country at peace, so that New Zealand could not be blamed if it took similar action when at war.179

On 18 November Fraser had received a deputation of Jehovah’s Witnesses asking that the order against them be rescinded and that they be allowed to meet for worship.180 On the latter aspect some de facto arrangement must have been made, for on 2 December newspapers reported that gratitude to the Mayor of Auckland, Sir Ernest Davis, and the Superintendent of Police, James Cummings181 for their ‘kindly courtesy and simple commonsense’ had been expressed by R. Reid, principal speaker at a religious gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Auckland town hall concert chamber. About 300 were present; proceedings were entirely orderly with a constable in the background. It was announced that further weekly meetings would be held in another hall.182 Truth was indignant that a proscribed body should meet for any purpose by arrangement with such officials; was it proposed ‘to permit the Witnesses of Jehovah to worship in whatever manner they worship—in other words, to recognise as a religion an organisation that defames other religions and constituted authority.’183

There was no further outcry against this relaxation and on 16 January the Commissioner of Police instructed that no action should be taken when Jehovah’s Witnesses met only for worship or religious study.184 A Gazette notice on 8 May 1941 announced that Jehovah’s Witnesses could meet for Bible study or worship within a building page 242 or tent provided that only members or former members of their organisation were present and that the meetings should not be publicly advertised save with police consent. The government, said the Attorney-General, had been told that it was interfering with the right to meet for worship, prayer and Bible study. There was no intention to interfere with these rights if exercised without detriment to the community; consequently activities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses which could not be construed as subversive would be permitted, with adequate safeguards against mischief.185

That the Presbyterian Church had spoken for religious freedom in this area was indicated by an Auckland Presbytery decision, on 6 May 1941, to take no further action on behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the same time it urged that the Public Questions Committee should be vigilant against any actions which would confine the Christian Church to worship and prevent the exercise of the right to proclaim religious truth, denounce error and remedy social wrong.186 The Whangarei County Council in April decided, although some ratepayers had objected, to take no action against a surfaceman, a Jehovah’s Witness, as he was not taking part in disloyal gatherings.187 In July occurred the Teachers’ Board of Appeal ruling that the Auckland Education Board was ultra vires in dismissing a Jehovah’s Witness for refusing, from sincere religious conviction, to salute the flag.188 An appeal against the regulations themselves as ultra vires and void, argued before the Supreme Court in March 1941, was dismissed.189

Some Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to canvass. They admitted that they were welcomed in about only one house in 2000.190 A few persisted in distributing leaflets.191 Others more cautiously offered Bibles to householders, where possible directing attention to certain passages which could lead to exposition of their doctrines. Frequently they refused to avoid penalties by promising to give up these activities.192 In some cases magistrates were resolute against the Bibles as the thin edge of the wedge;193 others were uneasy about convictions over Bibles.194 One, faced with a 17-year-old youth on such a charge, said: ‘I cannot see that this is anything but a technical page 243 breach, but what am I going to do with him…. There should be a straight-out ban on this organisation or else nothing at all. Then we would know where we are’.195 In November 1942 a Supreme Court judge upheld the appeal of a convicted Bible-canvasser, saying that there was no evidence of propaganda but adding that his decision should not encourage belief that such activities would in all circumstances be within the law.196

After 1942 Jehovah’s Witnesses seldom appeared in the news. On 15 October 1943 Canada’s ban on the organisation was removed.197 New Zealand’s was not officially revoked until 5 April 1945.198 The Attorney-General said that their leaders had assured the government that their activities would not give rise to objection. In other countries, including Australia where the policy, principles and methods of Jehovah’s Witnesses were the same as in New Zealand, they had been free from restrictions for some considerable time, with entirely satisfactory results, and the government expected the same in New Zealand.199 Counsel before the Defaulters’ Revision Authority said on 28 June that New Zealand was the last country in the Empire to lift the ban.200

1 Ashton, William (d 1965 aet 73): foundn member Otago Plasterers’ Assn

2 NZ Herald, 29 Jan, 1 Feb 40, pp. 6, 11

3 Tomorrow, 21 Feb 40, vol VI, p. 254

4 NZ Herald, 10, 17 Feb 40, pp. 8, 13

5 Ibid., 29 Jan, 1 Feb 40, pp. 6, 11

6 Ibid., 5 Feb 40, p. 9

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid., 12 Feb 40, p. 8; Evening Post, 12 Feb 40, p. 9

9 He was later fined £1. In two other fights in these Sunday frolics F. H. Levien SM found that soldiers had been aggressive. NZ Herald, 17 Feb, 9 Mar 40, pp. 13, 15

10 Ibid., 12 Feb 40, p. 8

11 Evening Post, 7 Feb 40

12 NZ Herald, 3 Feb 40, p. 10

13 Davis, Sir Ernest, Kt(’37) (1872–1962): Mayor Auck 1935–41

14 One councillor thought that they should be allotted a ‘decent place on the beach’, adding ‘The Hon. Robert Semple is after the Communists at the present time and I think we can leave them to him.’ Evening Post, 12 Dec 40, p. 4

15 NZ Herald, 10 Feb 40, p. 12

16 Bay of Plenty Beacon, 14 Feb 40

17 NZ Herald, 16 May 40, p. 8

18 Ibid., 10 Apr 40, p. 8

19 WHN, ‘Police Department’, pp. 228–9, 216

20 Ibid., pp. 207, 240–1

21 People’s Voice, 10 Nov 39, p. 1

22 Ibid., 8, 21 Mar, 12 Apr 40, pp. 4, 5, 1

23 Carr, Peter (1884–1946): MP (Lab) Auckland West from 1940; Pres Auck Tramways Union 1928–40

24 Fortune, Wilfred Henry (1897–1961): MP (Nat) Eden 1946–54; Min Police, etc 1949–54

25 Evening Post, 13 Mar 40, p. 7

26 NZ Herald, 15 Mar 40, p. 8

27 Ibid., 18 Mar 40, p. 15

28 Evening Post, 3 May 40, p. 8

29 War History Narrative, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap III, p. 4a, quoting police file S40/180

30 Standard, 18, 25 Apr 40, pp. 7, 7

31 Printed in People’s Voice, 23 Feb 40

32 Otago Daily Times, 25 May 40, p. 12

33 Southland Times, 27, 28 May 40, pp. 9, 9

34 Evening Post, 6 Jun 40, p. 7. Ormond Burton, who saw him in gaol, described him as a simple and harmless man. NZCPS Bulletin W 18, p. 8. According to the People’s Voice of 26 September, he was released at about that time, one month in six being the normal remission for good behaviour.

35 NZ Herald, 5, 8 Jun 40, pp. 15, 12. Four months later the printer, E. J. Brooks, was also charged for his share in this leaflet; the magistrate, finding some doubts, fined him £30. Ibid., 12, 16 Oct 40, pp. 8, 11

36 ‘Spark’, 23 Jun 40, quoted in WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap III, p. 10; Dominion, 19, 25 Jun 40, pp. 11, 9

37 NZ Herald, 5, 8 Jun 40, pp. 15, 12

38 Ibid., 3, 8 Aug 40, pp. 14, 14

39 Levien, Felix Hector (1882–1964): SM 1918–49, INZEF 1917–18

40 NZ Herald, 15, 18 Jul 40, pp. 13, 4

41 Ibid., 30 Jul 40, p. 8

42 Ibid., 31 Jul, 3 Aug 40, pp. 6, 14

43 Ibid., 2 Jul, 14 Aug 40, pp. 8, 12

44 Evening Post, 7 Jun, 17, 18 Jul 40, pp. 9, 9, 8, 13

45 Ibid., 15, 16, 18 Jul 40, pp. 9, 11, 13

46 Thorn, James (1882–1956): Sec Canty Farm Workers Union 1907–8; helped form NZ Lab party 1909, Pres 1929, 1930, Nat Sec 1932–5; Lab & socialist propagandist UK 1909–13; Ed Maoriland (now NZ) Worker 1918–32; MP (Lab) Thames 1935–46, Parly Under-Sec PM 1943–6; HC Canada 1947–50; NZ rep 5 sessions UNESCO

47 Evening Post, 17 Jul 40, p. 9

48 Bishop, Walter George (1873–1970): b UK; Pres Miramar Branch Lab party, then joined J. A. Lee’s Democratic Labour party

49 Goulding, Arthur Morice (1888–1973): lecturer AUC 9 years; SM from 1938; chmn Licensing Control Cmssn 1949–59

50 Press, 15 Jun 40, p. 12

51 Otago Daily Times, 27 May 40, p. 6

52 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap III, p. 12, referring to letter Cmssnr of Police to Sec ONS, 26 Feb 41, file PM 84/3/8

54 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 218

55 Ostler, Rt Hon Sir Henry, Kt(’39), KC (1876–1944): Crown Solicitor 1910–15; chmn VUC Council 1913–14; NZU Senate 1915–19; Judge Supreme Court 1924–42

56 Evening Post, 25 Sep, 18, 19, 24 Oct 40, pp. 11, 8, 13, 13

57 Ibid., 3, 7, 11 Feb 41, pp. 9, 9, 8

58 Ibid., 12, 16 Sep 40, pp. 13, 9

59 Ibid., 8, 24 Oct 40, pp. 9, 12

60 Press, 6 Nov 40, p. 13

61 Ibid., 14 Feb 41, p. 10

62 Cornish, Hon Henry Havelock, KC (1882–1952): Prof Law VUC 1930–4; Solicitor-Gen 1934–44; Judge Supreme Court 1945–50

63 For details of this trial and discussion of its implications see p. 898ff

64 Press, 19 Feb 41, p. 12

65 Ibid., 4 Mar 41, p. 12

66 Ibid., 18, 19, 21 Mar, 4 Apr 41, pp. 10, 3, 12, 10. They were released on 11 October, and Ostler, whose name had appeared in an overseas ballot earlier in the year, was immediately drafted into the Army by the procedure usual for defaulters. In Print, 29 Oct 41; NZ Herald, 15 Oct 41, p. 6

67 Press, 8 Oct 40, p. 8

68 Ibid., 10 Oct 40, p. 12

69 For instance its slogan, ‘No more troops overseas, New Zealand comes first’ and such statements as: ‘The idea that the Imperialist war can be ended by refusal of military service is as illusory as to think that exploitation can be ended by refusal to work for a capitalist exploiter’; or ‘The People’s Voice has always … pointed out the futility of advising workers to “Boycott the war” or adopt the standpoint of conscientious objectors.’ People’s Voice, 17 Jun, 26 Sep 40

70 NZCPS Bulletin W25, p. 2; Press, 14 Nov 40, p. 8

71 Otago Daily Times, 27 Nov 40, p. 6

72 Ibid., 10 Dec 40, p. 7

73 NZ Herald, 6, 7, 17 Dec 40, pp. 8, 13, 12; 6, 7, 8, 15 Feb 41, pp. 6, 9, 10, 11

74 Telegrams sent to newspapers, 23 Jan 41, Censorship and Publicity file D.20, quoted in WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IV, p. 2

75 Press, 14, 17 May 41, pp. 10, 5. They were discharged on Christmas Eve, and their letter to the Prime Minister, thanking him for this timely release and approving the democratic action of freeing political prisoners, was published in In Print, 7 Jan 42

76 A to J1941, H–16, p. 14

77 Standard, 28 Mar 40, pp. 7, 14

78 Ibid., 17 Apr 41, p. 3

79 See p. 902

80 Evening Post 10, 14 Mar 41, pp. 8, 8

81 NZPD, vol 259, p. 79

82 Auckland Star, 9 May 41, p. 6

83 Perhaps they were held ready to be applied to a fresh disturbance.

84 WHN, ‘Police Department’, pp. 240–1

85 Evening Post, 6 Jan 40

86 Ibid., 15 Feb 40, p. 10

87 Ibid., 5 Mar 40, p. 8. He was a member of the Coach and Motor Body Builders Association.

88 Ibid., 10 Feb 40, p. 12

89 Evening Post, 15 Mar 40, p. 6, headed ‘Hand of Moscow and Berlin

90 Ibid., 20 Mar 40, p. 8

91 A Dunedin RSA speaker, Press, 12 Mar 40, p. 8

92 NZ Herald, 2 Jul 40, p. 8

93 Otago Daily Times, 13 Mar 40, p. 6

94 Ibid., 20 Mar 40, p. 3

95 NZ Herald, 16 Mar 40, p. 12

96 Ibid., 23 Mar, 1 May 40, pp. 14, 10

97 Otago Daily Times, 13 Apr 40, p. 10

98 Ibid., 16 Apr 40, p. 13

99 Morrell, William John (1868–1945): Rector Otago BHS 1907–33; Council Otago Univ 1912, Chancellor from 1933

100 Otago Daily Times, 12, 17 Apr 40, pp. 6, 6

101 NZ Herald, 18 Apr 40, p. 6

102 Otago Daily Times, 10 May 40, p. 2; also 11, 13, 14 May 40, pp. 7, 4, 14

103 Ibid., 17 Jul 40, p. 3

104 Hercus, Sir Charles, Kt(’47), OBE(’19) (1888–1971): Dean OU Medical School 1937–59

105 Otago Daily Times, 17 Jul 40, p. 3

106 Ibid., 26 Jul 40, p. 8. A letter on 24 June had also complained of ‘the antics of this small party’, not supported in its ‘mischief-making campaign’ by the majority of RSA members.

107 Ibid.

108 Ibid., 8 Aug 40, p. 8

109 Press, 5 Jun 40, p. 6; Point Blank, 15 Aug 40, p. 41. Similar motions has been passed earlier by NZRSA.

110 Point Blank, 15 Aug 40, p. 47

111 Press, 15 Aug 40, p. 6

112 Roy, James Alexander McLean (1893–1971): MP (Nat) Clutha 1935–60

113 NZPD, vol 257, p. 721

114 Otago Daily Times, 4 Jun, 9 Jul 40, pp. 5, 6

115 Press, 22 Jun 40, p. 7

116 Boswell, Charles Wallace (1886–1956): headmaster Kawakawa DHS 1935–8; MP (Lab) Bay of Islands 1938–43; NZ Min Soviet Union 1944–9

117 NZPD, vol 257, pp. 473–4

118 Ibid., p. 553, with quote from Police Journal, Feb 40, p. 5; Evening Post, 17 Jul 40, p. 13

119 Ibid., 17 Apr 40, p. 10

120 Ibid., 8 Aug 40, p. 8. The Southland Times of 9 Aug reprovingly remarked that it would be unwise to make a practice of basing police investigations on anonymous letters. In fact, the police and the National Service and Army departments checked on all charges of subversion, evasion of service, etc, made in anonymous letters: ‘often these letters give helpful information, but more often the complaints they contain are founded on a tissue of fabrications’. Report in Otago Daily Times, 4 Oct 41, p. 8

121 NZ Herald, 21 Nov 40, p. 10

122 Evening Post, 12 Dec 40, p. 15

123 Burbidge, Professor Percy William, CBE(’57) (1891–): Prof Physics AUC 1921–57; member Academic Bd NZU and Research Grants Cmte; Defence Scientific Advisory Cmte 1939–45, chmn Auck War Tech Development Bd 1939–45; war service 1917–18

124 NZ Herald, 23 Nov 40, p. 15

125 Ibid., 12 Dec 40, p. 11

126 W. Anderson and L. K. Munro, ibid., 13, 14 Dec 40, pp. 11, 13

127 Ibid., 13 Dec 40, p. 11

128 Snell, F. A. (d 1948 aet 79): Auck Educ Bd for more than 20 years, Hamilton School Bd Govs & Technical College Bd Management

129 NZ Herald, 12 Dec 40, p. 11

130 Cocker, William Hollis, CMG(’50) (1896–1962): member NZ Broadcasting Board 1935–6, NZU Senate; Pres AUC Council 1938–; chmn Nat Council Adult Education

131 NZ Herald, 14 Dec 40, p. 13

132 Evening Post, 25 Jan 41, p. 13

133 Ibid.

134 NZ Herald, 23 Jan, 20 Feb 41, pp. 11, 9

135 Ibid., 18 Feb 41, p. 8

136 Ibid., 6 Mar 41, p. 10; Auckland Star, 3 Sep 41, p. 9

137 Evening Post, 30 May 40, p. 10

138 Press, 7 Jun 40, p. 8

139 Also Otago Daily Times, 18 Jun 40, p. 8

140 Press, 22 May 40, p. 9

141 Evening Post, 22 Jul 40, p. 5

142 Sievwright, Archibald Burnett (1890–1978): barrister & solicitor; INZEF 1914–18, Judge Advocate WWII; 2 years Vice-Pres Wgtn RSA

143 Evening Post, 3 Sep 40, p. 4

144 Ibid., 6 Sep 40, p. 6

145 A home intelligence section in the UK responsible to Duff Cooper, Minister of Information 1940–1.

146 Truth, 11 Sep 40, p. 15

147 Levvey, Ernest Charles (1877–1947): SM from 1918, Gisborne, Invercargill, Chch

148 Press, 23 Oct 40, p. 12

149 Ibid., 11, 16 Jul 41, pp. 9, 8; Truth, 16, 23 Jul 41, pp. 7, 27

150 WHN, ‘Police Department’, pp. 213–4

151 Ibid. The Wairoa Harbour Board complained of subversive literature ‘against the British government, the government of this country and Christianity’ which was ‘creating discontent among Maoris’. Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, 17 Apr 40, p. 8; NZ Herald, 18 Apr 40, p. 11

152 eg, NZ Tablet, 3 Jun, 1, 15 Jul 36, pp. 3, 33, 33, 11 Aug 37, p. 5, 24 Apr, 8 May 40, pp. 9, 10

153 Ibid., 14 Aug 40, p. 9

154 Church Chronicle, 1 Dec 40, p. 164

155 Truth, 10, 17 Jul 40, pp. 13, 8; 4, 18, 25 Sep 40, pp. 8, 9, 15; 23, 30 Oct 40, pp. 39, 3

156 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 234

157 Rutherford, [Judge] Joseph Franklin (1869–1942): US religious zealot

158 NZ Observer, 7 Aug 40, p. 9

159 Taranaki Daily News, 22, 31 Jul 40, pp. 8, 8

160 Evening Post, 17 Oct 40, p. 13

161 Ibid., 21 Oct 40, p. 4; Press, 19 Oct 40, p. 11

162 Press, 24 Oct 40, p. 12; Otago Daily Times, 25 Oct 40, p. 12

163 Coughlan, Charles Edward (1891–): b Canada; US radio priest 1930–40

164 Otago Daily Times, 14 Oct 40, p. 6. The leg was amputated at the hip. Press, 11 Dec 40, p. 12. When Meehan was tried in February for attempted murder and several lesser crimes, Mr Justice Kennedy pointed out that the sect was not on trial, but it seems clear that the Witnesses’ having meanwhile been banned argued strongly for the defence. Meehan was convicted on the minor charge of assaulting two men by threatening them with a loaded rifle and fixed bayonet, and in view of his having already been four months in prison was sentenced to two months’ hard labour. Otago Daily Times, 5, 6, 7 Feb 41, pp. 5, 9, 10

165 A popular Australian weekly with a considerable New Zealand circulation.

166 Press, 26 Oct 40, p. 12

167 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 235; NZ Gazette, 24 Oct 40, p. 2752

168 Evening Post, 25 Oct 40, p. 8

169 Truth, 27 Nov 40, p. 11; other trials were reported in, for example, ibid.; Evening Post, 2, 19, 26 Nov 40, pp. 11, 11, 9; Press, 18, 21 Nov, 6, 19 Dec 40, pp. 10, 8, 14, 8; Otago Daily Times, 22, 30 Nov 40, pp. 6, 13; NZ Herald, 5 Mar, 9 Apr (appeal to Supreme Court), 13 Jun 41, pp. 8, 9, 8

170 ‘Homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses have been raided by the police. Common version Oxford Bibles have been confiscated, and the study of same banned. Innocent Christians have been imprisoned for refusing to cease preaching the Gospel of God’s Kingdom … such proceedings accord with the totalitarian action of Berlin and Rome, and not with that of British justice. The Attorney-General has so far refused to answer the following question:—“Does the New Zealand Government refuse to Jehovah’s Witnesses the right of assembly to worship God with song, prayer and Scripture study? Answer: Yes, or No.” We appeal to Your Majesty to act on our behalf in harmony with your Coronation oath …. We respectfully request that you should advise the New Zealand Government to restore Christian freedom to Jehovah’s Witnesses’. Press, 27 Nov 40, p. 10

171 Hughes, Rt Hon William Morris, PC, CH(’41), QC (1864–1952): b Wales; PM Aust 1915–23; Min Ext Aff 1921–3, 1937–9; Attorney-General 1908–21, 1939–40; Min Navy 1940–3

172 Mair, Hon Alexander: b 1889: Premier NSW 1939–41, Ldr Oppos 1941–5

173 Evening Post, 19 Nov 40, p. 11. But in January 1941Canberra decided that Jehovah’s Witnesses should be declared an unlawful organisation. Ibid., 17 Jan 41, p. 6

174 Press, 20 Nov 40, p. 8

175 Otago Daily Times, 29 Nov 40, p. 11

176 NZPD, vol 258, pp. 500–1

177 Ibid., p. 515

178 Ibid., pp. 502–3

179 Ibid., p. 522

180 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 235

181 Cummings, James, CBE(’50) (d 1976 aet 91): Superintendent i/c Auckland Police 1939; to HQ Wgtn 1941; Commissioner Police 1944–50

182 NZ Herald, 2 Dec 40, p. 9

183 Truth, 11 Dec 40, p. 9

184 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 236

185 Evening Post, 9 May 41, p. 6; NZ Gazette, 8 May 41, p. 1298

186 NZ Herald, 7 May 41, p. 11

187 Ibid., 12 Apr 41, p. 11

188 Evening Post, 11 Jun 41 p. 8; See p. 236

189 NZ Herald, 5 Mar, 9 Apr 41, pp. 8, 8

190 Press, 22 May 42, p. 4

191 Evening Star, 27 Jun 42, p. 2

192 NZ Herald, 3 Jun 42, p. 4; Evening Star, 12 Aug 42, p. 4

193 NZ Herald, 2, 4 Apr 42, pp. 6, 6

194 Ibid., 11 Aug 42, p. 2

195 Ibid., 13 Jun 41, p. 8

196 Evening Star, 12 Aug 42, p. 4; Press, 21 Nov 42, p. 6

197 Auckland Star, 28 Oct 43, p. 4

198 NZ Gazette, 5 Apr 45, p. 371

199 Press, 29 Mar 45, p. 6

200 Dominion, 29 Jun 45, p. 8