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War Economy


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In spite of having unrestricted access to the wide range of War History Branch narratives, the completion of this volume has involved more than four years of intensive research work.

The war history narratives vary greatly in the thoroughness with which they cover their subjects. The Ministry of Works produced a splendidly comprehensive set of narratives which outshine all others. In any other emergency they will provide an excellent set of reference volumes for those responsible for public works. Some other Departments did reasonably well, but some produced poor efforts, and a few, including the Treasury,1 produced nothing at all. The many gaps in the narratives have had to be filled in from a variety of other sources. However, in a number of cases the necessary information was not known at the time, or, because it was not then recorded, is now irretrievably lost.

The inadequacies of some of the factual records available during the war must have added to the difficulties of policy-makers and administrators then to an even greater extent than they now hinder the historian who tries to record and assess the significance of wartime events. For example, during the war, manpower policy had to be developed without any clear picture of trends in the industrial distribution of the labour force. Only the 1926 and 1936 censuses were then available. Again, no satisfactory subdivision of foreign exchange transactions was made during the war, in spite of the assistance it would have been for external economic policy. It is quite impossible to reconstruct one now.

The Department of Industries and Commerce, which handled most of the crucial supply arrangements, failed to keep running accounts of the quantitative effect of its decisions. Later it allowed considerable portions of the inadequate records it did have to be lost, when many of its wartime files were indiscriminately destroyed. Thus the fruits of experience in this sphere were only partially available during the war, and cannot be comprehensively recorded now to assist those who may be responsible for supply in any future state of emergency.

1 The lack of a Treasury narrative has added considerably to the difficulties of producing an economic war history. War History Branch file I.A. 181/9/1 reveals that repeated attempts were made to have one prepared.

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While the time which elapsed before this volume was written has given a better broad perspective to the view of the war effort, it has added considerably to the difficulties in clarifying the more blurred parts of the picture. As the chapters were written, it has fallen to the lot of my research worker, Mr S. G. Elmer, to plough laboriously through limitless periodicals, newspapers and reports in search of the answers to several thousand queries on doubtful points. Most of them he has ultimately found. Between us we have skimped nothing. As far as we can make it so, the record is complete.

Though a number of other newspapers are mentioned, most of the newspaper references in this volume are from two Wellington dailies, the Dominion and the Evening Post. The files of both these papers for all the war years were made available by the Wellington Public Library and were combed through by Mr Elmer. I thank the Library staff for this and many other courtesies. The staffs of the General Assembly Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library have also given valuable assistance.

All volumes of Hansard for the war years, the annual reports of all relevant Government Departments and a variety of periodicals were read. The 1946 report of the National Employment Service was particularly valuable for its comprehensive summary of wartime manpower activities.

One benefit of being late in the field was that economic war histories were already available from other countries, and a number of valuable references are listed below. Naturally, few of these overseas volumes throw light on the New Zealand internal economy in war, nor do economic experiences here seem to have paralleled those in any other belligerent country. Nevertheless, the record of external relationships has been filled out from these volumes, and often the internal economic effects they record for other countries have been compared with New Zealand experience.

Valuable information and references have been received from Mr J. S. Welply of the Department of Statistics, Mr R. A. Barber, Librarian, Army Department, and Captain F. Kent Loomis, acting Director of Naval History, Washington, D.C.

Wherever possible, data drawn from the various reference works has been tested against other information. This has been time-consuming, but, since by this means a number of statements made during and after the war have been revealed to be ill-founded,1 it should add considerably to the value of the volume as a factual record.

Of the New Zealand works, most valuable has been the companion volume to this one, Political and External Affairs, by Professor F. L. W. Wood. I have kept it by me all the time, and I hope that, as a result, the two volumes intermesh as they should do.

1 As noted, where appropriate, in the text.

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Studies of New Zealand at War

  • Cody, J. F., 28 (Maori) Battalion, New Zealand Official War History. Wellington, 1956.

  • Gillespie, Oliver A., The Pacific, New Zealand Official War History. Wellington, 1952.

  • New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch, Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War (3 vols). Wellington, 1949, 1951, 1963.

  • Proceedings of the General Working Committee of the Economic Stabilisation Conference, 1940. Wellington.

  • Report of the Economic Stabilisation Conference, 1940.

  • Ross, A. A., Wartime Agriculture in New Zealand. Stanford University, California, USA, 1954.

  • Ross, Sqn Ldr J. M. S., Royal New Zealand Air Force, New Zealand Official War History. Wellington, 1955.

  • Waters, S. D., Ordeal by Sea, The New Zealand Shipping Company in the Second World War. London, 1949.

  • Williams, J. W., The New Zealand Economy in War and Reconstruction. New York, 1948.

  • Wise, H. L., Wartime Price Control in New Zealand. Wellington, 1943.

  • Wood, F. L. W., The New Zealand People at War: Political and External Affairs. Wellington, 1958.

Other Histories and Surveys of New Zealand

  • Baker, J. V. T., Income Distribution in a Trading Nation. Wellington, 1959.1

  • Baker, J. V. T., Patterns and Relationships in the New Zealand Economy. Wellington, 1959.1

  • Baker, J. V. T., New Zealand Tomorrow. Wellington, 1961.1

  • Belshaw, Horace, ed., New Zealand. United Nations Publication. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1947.

  • Condliffe, J. B., The Welfare State in New Zealand. London, 1959.

  • Farming in New Zealand. Department of Agriculture Bulletin No. 279. Wellington, 1946.

  • Hamilton, W. M., The Dairy Industry in New Zealand. Wellington, 1944.

  • Hare, A. E. C., Report on Industrial Relations in New Zealand. Wellington, 1946.

  • Harris, E. A., A Survey of the New Zealand Footwear Manufacturing Industry with special reference to conditions in the industry prior to and during the licensing period 1939–1949. Thesis; copy held by Canterbury University Library.

  • Hunter, Mr Justice, The Work and Practice of the Price Tribunal. Wellington, 1946.

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  • Interim Report on Post-War Reconstruction and National Development. Report by the Organisation for National Development. 1944.

  • Lipson, Leslie, The Politics of Equality. Chicago, 1948.

  • Nash, Walter, New Zealand, a Working Democracy. London, 1944.

  • New Zealand Overseas Trade. Report on Shipping, Ports, Transport, and Other Services. Producers' Board Shipping Utilisation Committee, New Zealand; and New Zealand Trade Streamlining Committee, London. London, 1964.

  • Paul, J. T., Humanism in Politics. Wellington, 1946.

  • Polaschek, R. J., Government Administration in New Zealand. London, 1958.

  • Primary Production in New Zealand, 1957. Department of Agriculture. Wellington, 1957.

  • Report of the Royal Commission on Monetary, Banking and Credit Systems, 1956. Wellington, 1957.

  • Scott, K. J., ed., Welfare in New Zealand. Wellington, 1955.

  • Sinclair, K., A History of New Zealand. London, 1959.

  • Social Security Department, The Growth and Development of Social Security in New Zealand (1898–1949). Wellington, 1950.

  • Soljak, P. J., New Zealand, Pacific Pioneer. London, 1946.

  • Speer, N. M., The Electrical Supply Industry in New Zealand. Wellington, 1962.

  • Thorn, J., Peter Fraser. London, 1952.

  • Weststrate, C., Portrait of a Modern Mixed Economy. Wellington, 1959.

  • Woods, N. S., Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration in New Zealand. Wellington, 1963.

1 Cyclostyled. Copies held by Department of Statistics.

New Zealand Journals, Annual Reports, etc.

British War Histories

  • Central Statistical Office, History of the Second World War: Statistical Digest of the War. (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1951.

  • Churchill, Winston S., The Second World War (6 vols). London, 1948–54.

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  • Hall, H. Duncan, History of the Second World War: North American Supply. (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1955.

  • Hall, H. Duncan, and Wrigley, C. C., History of the Second World War: Studies of Overseas Supply. (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1956.

  • Hammond, R. J., History of the Second World War: Food—The Growth of Policy. Volume I (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1951.

  • Hammond, R. J., History of the Second World War: Food—Studies in Administration and Control. Vol. III (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1962.

  • Hancock, W. K., and Gowing, M. M., History of the Second World War: British War Economy. (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1949.

  • Hurstfield, J., History of the Second World War: The Control of Raw Materials. (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1953.

  • Murray, Keith A. H., History of the Second World War: Agriculture. (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1955.

  • Pollock, George, The Jervis Bay. London, 1958.

  • Roskill, Capt. S. W., The War at Sea. Vol. I. (United Kingdom Military Series). London, 1954.

  • Sayers, R. S., History of the Second World War: Financial Policy 1939–45. (U.K. Civil Series). London, 1956.

  • Snyder, Louis L., The War, 1939–1945. London, 1962.

United States War Histories

  • Flower, D., and Reeves, J., eds., The War, 1939–1945. London, 1960.

  • Johnston, R. W., Follow Me. 2nd Marine Division in World War II. New York, 1948.

  • Morison, Samuel Eliot, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Vol. I. Boston, 1950.

  • ‘New Zealand's Sea Frontier Organisation.’ Unpublished manuscript by the Naval Branch of the United States War History Branch. Washington.

  • Sherwood, Robert E., The White House Papers of Harry L. Hopkins, (2 vols). London, 1948–49.

  • Smith, R. Elberton, The Army and Economic Mobilisation. The United States Army in World War II. Washington, 1959.

  • ‘Twentieth Report to Congress on Lend Lease Operations.’ Washington, 1947.

Other War Histories

  • Elliott, W. Y., and Hall, H. D., eds., The British Commonwealth at War. New York, 1943.

  • Sinha, N. C., and Khera, P. N., Official History of the Indian Forces in the Second World War, 1939–45. Indian War Economy: (Supply, Industry, and Finance). India and Pakistan, 1962.

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Other Books

Other Publications

  • Annual Abstracts of Statistics and other British statistical publications.

  • Blau, Gerda, ‘Wool in the World Economy.’ Paper read before the Royal Statistical Society and published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, London, 1946.

  • Canada Yearbooks and other Canadian statistical publications.

  • Commonwealth of Australia Official Yearbooks and other statistical publications.

  • The Round Table, London, quarterly.

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