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Political and External Affairs

CHAPTER 22 — Foundations of the Future

page 303

Foundations of the Future

FOR New Zealand the waging of war was not, according to the famous phrase, the continuation of policy by other means, but rather a demonstration of the necessity of having a policy at all. She could, in fact, no longer afford the luxury of being unconcerned with external affairs: unconcerned, whether because the course of world events was unimportant to her, or because she was content to follow uncritically the lead of the mother country, or because she was associated with external friends so powerful that she must willy-nilly fall in with their wishes. Wartime events showed only too clearly that overseas politics were of profound importance for New Zealand and that mistakes were dangerous even for her. They proved that her judgment differed in important ways from that of Britain, and they catapulted her into a turbulent Pacific environment where the old rules did not apply and where, if she did not defend her own viewpoint with competence as well as with courage, neither the British nor the Americans nor even the Australians were likely to do it for her. The evidence was indeed plain. It was underlined by consciousness of national peril and it was presented to a group of political leaders who had long fought against the comfortable colonialism of New Zealand's traditional outlook. The war convinced cabinet, if not the general public, that the Dominion must have an intelligently planned and sustained external policy. The viewpoint, however, remained characteristically practical. For example, while systematic steps were taken to make possible a genuinely independent external policy, the Statute of Westminster was not ratified until 1947 despite solid arguments that such a step was timely.1

In plain fact neither the administrative nor the political machinery was adequate to framing such a policy, particularly in wartime. In one small but significant matter, for instance, New Zealand alone among the Dominions in 1939 still kept to the old practice by which messages between her Government and that of Britain passed through the Governor-General. It was no great matter in peacetime, though sometimes awkward when the Governor-General was out of Wellington, and, as was pointed out at the Imperial Conference of

1 Cf. ed. Beaglehole, Statute of Westminster. In similar vein New Zealand showed little interest in wartime suggestions for mechanical improvements in Commonwealth consultation, finding in them little prospect of practical advantage over existing conventions.— Mansergh, Documents and Speeches on British Commonwealth Affairs, 1931–1952 Vol. I, p.593.

page 304 1937, the ‘system is an anachronism unless New Zealand still desires to retain some of the machinery which was appropriate only when New Zealand was a colony under the control of Great Britain.’ Change was deferred, however, until the practical disadvantages had become quite plain. With the outbreak of war the main weakness of the old method was quietly removed, for the cipher staff which handled the confidential cables left its lodging in Government House and was established in the Prime Minister's Department. Then, when Lord Galway's term as Governor-General was about to expire, the Government took the commonsense step of suggesting that with the arrival of his successor New Zealand should adopt the same practice as other dominions. It was arranged, accordingly, that from 1 February 1941 communications should be exchanged directly between the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the British Government; a development which speeded up and facilitated the intimate personal contacts essential to the smooth working of the British Commonwealth at war.

Further steps followed which were of first-class, long-term importance. In the first place, diplomatic posts were established in four countries bordering on the Pacific: in the United States at the end of 1941 and Canada in April 1942; in Australia in February 1943 and in Russia a year later.1 This last step, incidentally, represented New Zealand's widest divergence from her customary caution in diplomatic matters, but it was taken with a surprisingly wide degree of public support. These new posts were solidly manned. They were established with some publicity, and helped to demonstrate both to New Zealanders and to their allies that the Dominion had some stature and independence. They also served not only as mouthpieces overseas but as sources of information by which independent policy-making could be influenced. The New Zealand Government was from the first well served, for it received British diplomatic information and voluminous material through the High Commissioner's Office in London and the British High Commissioner in Wellington. From the end of 1939 onwards, General Freyberg's reports were an able and valued supplement. Nevertheless, the development of a rudimentary set of diplomatic posts in overseas capitals did something, from New Zealand's point of view, to improve the balance, as well as to increase the volume, of information on world affairs.

The establishment of independent diplomatic posts was plainly significant, but there was probably greater fundamental importance in the decision of March 1943 that the intelligent interest of politicians and the devoted labours of a few individuals should at last

1 Formal documents making the appointments were dated 23 April 1942 (USA); 14 May 1942 (Canada); 27 Feb 1943 (Australia); 15 Mar 1944 (Russia). But action in several cases had already been taken.

page 305 be given adequate machinery for the framing of New Zealand's foreign policy.

Up to this time external relations were administered by a handful of men in the Prime Minister's Department, while the so-called Department of External Affairs was concerned only with island territories. The decision was now made that these last should be administered by a new department, now to be correctly titled, and that relations with other members of the Commonwealth and with foreign countries should be handled by a new, properly organised Department of External Affairs. The old rather casual and personal arrangement could no longer deal with the sheer volume of material flowing in, nor with the continual necessity to make quick decisions on complex issues which were matters of life and death. Information, it was plain, must be properly digested for the guidance of those making policy decisions, and this could only be done by a team of experts making a continuous survey of problems likely to arise, as well as those already pressing for attention.

Such considerations underlay the External Affairs Act of June 1943. In the first instance the new department remained virtually indistinguishable in personnel from the Prime Minister's Department from which it had sprung. The change, however, was made the occasion for steady recruitment of men taken directly into the department because of individual competence and not recruited in the usual way by graduation from the Public Service in general. Furthermore, it made possible an extensive differentiation in function. Accordingly, New Zealand in 1943 set about the building up, on lines that had been successfully followed in sister countries, of a Department of External Affairs equipped in personnel and knowledge and status to support the new active and independent role that New Zealand was coming to take in international affairs.

The creation of a systematically organised Department of External Affairs left intact a salient feature of the New Zealand political pattern: the concentration of policy decisions in the hands of a few key men and their presumed omnicompetence in the face of problems ranging from the intricacies of East European politics and the principles of the United Nations Organisation, to the tactics of domestic politics and the administration of legislation in individual cases. In particular, all depended on the Prime Minister, his deputy, and two or three trusted official advisers. Time and again, New Zealand's policies depended on the personal decisions of Savage, Fraser, and Nash. The course of things was necessarily influenced by the temporary absence overseas of Fraser or Nash or, on occasion, of both of them and, especially towards the end of the war, by the illnesses which from time to time smote them both.

It was in line with New Zealand tradition that a Prime Minister page 306 and one or two others should run a cabinet and be called upon to decide all policy matters, great and small. The tendency was necessarily accentuated by wartime conditions, and it had much to commend it. On most issues the views of Fraser and Nash, who were in any case the most effective members of the team, tended to coincide. Moreover, they tended genuinely to represent a broad consensus of unformulated opinion in the Labour Party and indeed in the community in general. Again, Fraser in particular showed in wartime a notable capacity to disentangle the essentials in a complex situation and to carve out quickly a line of policy related to solid principles. In committee work in London, Washington and San Francisco, as well as in Wellington, he handsomely held his own in distinguished company. At his best, he both saw clearly and spoke firmly. Certain of his diplomatic communications have a quite unwonted sting and candour. ‘All I have to add,’ he said at the conclusion of discussion on a British policy decision which he feared might weaken the morale of wage-earners, ‘is that I have never known of the use of weaker arguments to bolster up a foolish action’. On occasion—the Polish problem at the end of the war was a case in point—his personal understanding proved remarkable; and he was capable at times both of reaching a quick decision and fighting for it with dexterous pertinacity against heavy odds. This happened, for example, in the critical manpower discussions of May 1943.

This instance, however, illustrates also an aspect of the problem which became increasingly serious. In May 1943 Fraser did not finally make up his mind on the right principle of action until the very last possible moment. As the war went on, problems at times took on an appearance of insolubility, while daily business, including the necessity to manage domestic policies, clamoured for attention. Indecision and the postponement of consideration of some awkward matters were a natural defence for men who were growing tired and ill and whose training and attitude inclined them towards personal, unbusinesslike methods of administration. According to report the files bearing on unresolved problems sometimes rose like protective bulwarks round a Minister or were thickly dispersed over desk and floor like a generous snowfall. Harassed officials sometimes had to fight hard to extract their instructions. Yet the point should not be exaggerated. The machine worked, and when crises arose they were ultimately resolved in ways not discreditable to New Zealand's political judgment and her loyalty to the common cause. Moreover, if Fraser was at times tired, evasive, tortuous, worried about detail and generally resistant to those who pressed him to make up his mind, he showed again and again that when he was finally cornered a courageous decision would be made (and its consequences fought through to a conclusion) on principles which were broadly consistent page 307 with New Zealand's basic attitudes. The strength of the position after 1943 was that the machinery of a professional Department of External Affairs was available to inform the minds and sustain the judgments of politicians when at last a matter was taken in hand.

New Zealand, it is manifest, learned the necessity for a well organised Department of External Affairs the hard way, by being confronted with problems which even wise men could handle only when well informed and when supported by specialists. These problems arose even in the relatively familiar fields of Europe and Africa and the Middle East, so soon as it was established that the use of New Zealand forces, and even her economic war effort, was a matter for responsible and independent judgment, not merely for the discovering of British wishes and then carrying them out. The problem of intervention in Greece, the attitude of Turkey and Persia, the probable reactions of Frenchmen to Allied landings in Africa, the strength of Italian morale and of Russian military forces; these matters necessarily entered into calculations where New Zealand had repeatedly claimed the right to be heard. Far more complex from her point of view were problems arising in the Pacific. In Europe decisions turned on relationships between New Zealand and a single mighty friend, whose policy was dominated by the congenial and persuasive personality of Churchill. In the Pacific, the balance, in some sense, had to be held between Britain and the United States; and the American attitude towards small allies, though eminently friendly, was brusque and mindful of their relative unimportance. Moreover, in Pacific affairs, New Zealand was, and felt herself to be, a principal; a small power, no doubt, but one with direct and urgent interests, and charged, together with Australia, to represent the British Commonwealth in troubled waters. The field was new, and in this kind of work New Zealand was inexperienced, apart from the long-sustained personal interest of some individuals. To be active here, however, was the logical working out of attitudes long since adopted, attitudes given vigorous expression in the far-off days of Coates's premiership in 1925–28 and nurtured by the leaders of the Labour Party both in opposition and in power. Community feeling naturally lagged behind the action of far-sighted men, but during the Second World War the basic principle which meant, in essence, that New Zealand must act as a nation and not as a colony, had become virtually an agreed policy among public men. In a vigorous parliamentary debate in March 1943 about New Zealand's participation in the Pacific war, it was forcefully said by a leading minister that ‘the facts as presented to us were so compelling that I do not think any group of four or five men in the house would have arrived at any decisions other than those that have been made1.’

1 D. G. Sullivan on 17 Mar 1943, NZPD, Vol. 262, p. 440.

page 308

New Zealand was, then, pitchforked into diplomatic activity, particularly in respect of the Pacific area; an activity in which strategic and political matters were inextricably intertwined.1 Moreover, political considerations were by no means confined to current problems. As the struggle ceased, for the Commonwealth, to be one of mere survival, hopes and fears for the post-war world increasingly influenced the current policies of all the partners. In the Pacific area in particular, this meant for New Zealand breaking new ground and getting along with her American friends in a way which would make the best of wartime co-operation, and at the same time would tend to build up the kind of world favoured in New Zealand's long-term thinking.

After the catastrophes of mid-1940, the idealistic note in New Zealand's foreign policy—the aspiration toward a better world where wars would not occur—was necessarily submerged by the extreme harshness of contemporary reality. With attention focused on ways of avoiding defeat, there was little encouragement to speculate on what to do with an obviously distant victory. When the tide turned, towards the end of 1942, the passions aroused in a bitter struggle had produced their result, even in New Zealand. After the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 Churchill endorsed Roosevelt's statement that the Allies would require unconditional surrender from Germany and Japan, and there was no protest, public or diplomatic, from New Zealand. Yet there could have been no clearer repudiation of the proposition formulated by her cabinet three years earlier: ‘Experience has abundantly shown that good does not come out of a peace imposed by a victor on the vanquished. We should therefore not wait until the exhaustion and bitterness of war has rendered impossible a peace on equal and rational terms2.’ She could, of course, have had little hope in January 1943 of persuading Roosevelt and Churchill to alter their momentous, if somewhat casual, decision. Yet she never hesitated to set down her views, if only for the sake of the record, on those occasions when she seriously disagreed with British policy. A peace ‘on equal and rational terms’ had manifestly not been attainable even in 1939. By 1943 even New Zealand, tacitly though probably unconsciously, recognised that ‘the exhaustion and bitterness of war’ had rendered such a peace impossible for an indefinite number of years ahead.

It is true that New Zealand still clung to an article of faith which in her foreign policy was second only to loyalty to the British Commonwealth, namely, the faith that peace could be most effectively preserved by all nations combining against an aggressor, as

1 Cf. McNeill, p. 29.

2 Savage to Fraser, 5 Nov 1939.

page 309 provided under the Covenant of the League of Nations or some very similar international organisation. As hopes for victory in the foreseeable future grew more rational and planning for peace more urgent, this faith once more acquired practical importance; for it increasingly influenced the views she expressed in the councils of the United Nations and helped to emphasise her community of interest with certain of her close associates. Nevertheless, New Zealand's first publicised views on the post-war settlement emerged less from her own Government's resurgent faith in international institutions than from the more concrete aspirations of the Australian Government in the Pacific area, or more exactly, from Australian reactions to American policy as it concerned the two Pacific dominions.
By 1943 it began to appear from two sharply contrasting lines of thought in the United States, that American policy might call for quite considerable changes in the Pacific area after the war. The first of these lines of thought was idealistic. American liberals had long wished to induce the so-called colonial powers to grant independence as soon as possible to their colonies. This feeling, of course, affected territories much more important than the Pacific islands that were the immediate concern of Australia and New Zealand, and was very strong in the American Government, from the President and his Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, downwards. Unlike Churchill, Roosevelt took the view that the sentence inserted at his own request in the Atlantic Charter—‘they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them’—referred not only to the occupied countries of Europe but to colonial peoples everywhere.1 American ideas seem first to have been put into relatively definite form in a draft written by State Department officials in March 1943 under the guidance of Cordell Hull. This proposed ultimate independence as the goal for all colonial areas, and the establishment of an international trusteeship administration to assume responsibility for peoples unprepared for full independence who ‘as a result of the war … would be released from political ties with nations formerly responsible for them2.’ This statement contrasted with a much more conservative draft prepared in the previous month by the British Government. The British draft drew no substantial comment from New Zealand. The Australians, however, urged with some success that the principle of trusteeship should be written into it. They also remarked significantly that the British draft might be held to ‘amount to requiring an absolute return to the status quo as regards sovereignty and

1 Wilmot, pp. 633–6; see also draft reproduced by Churchill, Vol. III, p. 395.

2 The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, Vol. II, p. 1235, quotation from Hull's summary of the document.

page 310 administrative control.’ It might well, therefore, be regarded by other colonial powers as denying any change whatsoever. Clearly, added the Australians, substantial changes might be found desirable in South-east Asia.

American idealism, then, opened up a wide field. It challenged Churchill's principle that the British Empire should be kept intact and it drew some sympathy from Australia, if not from New Zealand. At the same time, American realism raised issues which were more material and which bore more closely on the Pacific area. Many Americans, it became clear, had no intention of lessening the grip over the Pacific area which had been acquired with such effort and cost. Certain congressmen, with some encouragement from Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, argued that the United States, having lost the lives of its servicemen in fighting for the islands in the Pacific, and having spent its money in building bases on them, should continue to hold those bases after the end of the war. Secretary Hull at one time suggested that Allied countries who benefited from lend-lease should grant bases to the Americans. On another occasion the Chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee said that the United States would ‘just take’ Japanese mandated and other islands.1 Such remarks inevitably roused fears in the southern Dominions that in respect of the Pacific islands Britain might have to yield to American pressure, whether exercised in the name of strategy or of idealistic trusteeship. The contradiction between these two principles did not make their combination under American auspices any less awkward to the British Commonwealth.

New Zealand had long been uneasy about American claims among the Pacific islands. After the Japanese attack she had striven to establish her claim to a share in planning a peace settlement in the Pacific area, and it was much in the mind of key men that that area was a proper field for the operation of those ideals of international action and trusteeship which, for New Zealand, had been expressed in the League of Nations.2 When, therefore, the Australian Government pressed for a definition of policy in the Pacific, New Zealand was a willing associate.

From the earliest days of the war, collaboration between Australia and New Zealand had been close alike in the spheres of politics, of strategy and of supply. On matters of common interest such as the closing of the Burma Road, the defence conferences at Singapore, the organisation of strategic commands in the Pacific, the two governments consulted each other before communicating their views elsewhere, and in some cases formulated a joint policy to submit

1 C. F. E. Seibert, ANZAC Pact, unpublished thesis, Victoria University library, p. 48, quoting Stone, Colonial Trusteeship, p. 21, and Price, Australia Comes of Age, p. 120.

2 Nash, New Zealand, passim.

page 311 for the approval of Britain or of the United States. Even where the ultimate decisions were different, as on the issue of the return of dominion troops from the Middle East, intimate and at times very lively discussions had preceded the final action. The accession to power of the Australian Labour Party in October 1941 gave them like-minded governments, and with the outbreak of the Pacific war they had in common a dangerous enemy whose threat was far more immediate to them than to any other country of the Commonwealth, or indeed, to the United States itself. There was, admittedly, a significant difference between their responses to this danger. For Australia more than for New Zealand the actual physical threat of Japanese invasion was a menace which had been long foreseen and which had entered deeply into national thinking. The sharpness of Australian response thus had an historical explanation and, for the time being at least, made her vehemently Pacific-minded. Her keen resentment when New Zealand decided not to demand the return of all her forces from the Mediterranean area was, however, a matter of detail compared with the strength of the forces giving the two dominions a community of interest. They were physically located in the Pacific, and vitally concerned, therefore, in the postwar settlement of that whole area. They were, moreover, small powers conscious that crucial decisions were being made by Churchill and Roosevelt, and conscious, too, that their diplomatic strength would be increased if they could learn to speak in unison.
The natural spearhead of the new diplomatic drive from the southern Pacific was Herbert Evatt, the forceful Australian Minister of External Affairs. His attitude drew together threads of Australian feeling about foreign policy. In the background lay that complex of economic, political and racialist arguments underlying a rather flamboyantly proclaimed White Australia policy. Close to hand was the Australian Labour Party's period of isolationism, when the argument ran that the country's defence effort, if it were necessary at all, should be specifically directed to the local defence of the South Pacific area. Added to this was a sense of mission which Evatt expressed in April 1943 in the most general of terms: ‘The two British democracies in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand,’ he told the Americans, ‘are the trustees of democratic civilisation in the South Pacific1.’ Australia's mission, however, reflected an imperial exuberance which has at times been shared by statesmen in both of the southern dominions. ‘Vogel and Seddon howling Empire from an empty coast,2’ like Evatt, were in their day spokesmen of a vigorous attitude wherein were combined in nice propor-

1 Seibert, p. 50, quoting Current Notes, 15 Jun 1943; Evatt, Foreign Policy of Australia p. 112.

2 In the phrase of the New Zealand poet Allen Curnow.

page 312 tions
expansionist ambitions and benevolent hopes for the territories about to pass under British domination. Moreover, in 1943, the fulfilment of the ‘mission’ clearly demanded independent political action. When Evatt launched a series of talks between the two governments in October 1943, he told the New Zealand High Commissioner that ‘Australia and New Zealand in co-operation should be the foundation of the British sphere of influence in the South West and South Pacific. The future safety and prosperity of these two Dominions depended on their having a decisive voice in these areas.’ He was also ‘inclined to suggest that it would be wise for Great Britain to transfer all British colonies in these areas to Australia and New Zealand, Australia gradually to take the Solomons area and New Zealand to take Fiji etc.’ At the same time he frankly expressed ‘some uneasiness as to the future possibilities of the American policy in the Pacific.’

A further stimulus to Australian initiative in this field was the manner in which the leaders of the United Nations framed Allied policy, whether for the conduct of the war or for the peace that was to follow. In particular, Australia resented the virtual exclusion of small powers from critical discussions where their interests were intimately involved. In October 1943, for example, complex negotiations culminated in the so-called Moscow Declaration1 by which the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and China pledged themselves among other things to continue their collaboration after the war, and recognised ‘the necessity of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organisation, based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states and open to membership by all such states, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security’. The upshot involved the overriding of Australian views, especially on the much-debated problem of China's status.

New Zealand and Australia had been consulted during September on the draft of the declaration, when the Australians said that it was unreal to include China with the Big Three in the proposed declaration, and that one of the Three should be, not the United Kingdom, but the British Commonwealth of Nations. If they were to agree to the clause foreshadowing joint action to maintain security, argued the Australian Government, Australia should be included as one of the parties to act on behalf of the community of nations, either separately or as part of the British Commonwealth. Nor would they rest content were this merely achieved in practice; they asked that it be formally recognised as well.2 New Zealand,

1 McNeill, p. 331.

2 Aust. Minister of External Affairs to NZ Minister of External Affairs, 18 Sep 1943.

page 313 being consulted by the Australians, was not unsympathetic to the Australian viewpoint, yet hoped to avoid delay and did not ‘wish to make an issue of the inclusion by name of the individual members of the British Commonwealth1.’ However, after the declaration had been issued, a joint telegram was sent to the United Kingdom by the two dominions. ‘Subject always to consultation and agreement with the other governments concerned’, they wished that, in the arrangements that should immediately follow the ejection of the Japanese, Australia should have full responsibility for policing Portuguese Timor and the Solomons and a share in the policing of the Dutch East Indies and the New Hebrides. ‘As regards Pacific Islands in general south of the equator we believe that responsibility for policing should primarily be with the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, though it is realised that regard must be paid to the position of the United States which already has a Naval Base in Tutuila2.’

Neither Dominion was consulted on the terms of the Cairo Declaration of 1 December, in which the United States, Britain and China declared their intention of taking from Japan all territories seized by her since 1895. Evatt wrote after the war that both dominions were most concerned at the mode of making this decision. ‘Much the same conclusion might very well have been reached by a general assembly of the nations participating in the war against Japan,’ he declared, ‘but the fact remained that it was a pronouncement by a self-selected few and not the result of reasoned deliberation of all concerned3.’ New Zealand did not formally protest at the time on this issue. The Prime Minister, like Curtin and Evatt, objected to what had been done, but reserved action till after the impending talks between the two dominion governments.

In general, Australia and New Zealand during 1943 found themselves substantially in agreement in their thinking about the postwar world, and increasingly anxious that their views should receive more attention, at least when the Pacific was in question, than the Big Three seemed disposed to give them. In mid-January 1944 a New Zealand delegation headed by Fraser visited Australia for discussions on the whole matter, and found with some surprise that the Australians had in mind the signing of a solemn treaty or pact between the two dominions. The New Zealand delegates doubted the wisdom and the constitutional propriety of negotiating a formal treaty in the circumstances. Their idea had been essentially an exchange of opinions, the natural culmination of which would have

1 NZ Minister of External Affairs to Aust. Minister of External Affairs, 21 Sep 1943.

2 Set out in Aust. Minister of External Affairs to NZ Minister of External Affairs, 25 Jan 1944.

3 Evatt, Australia in World Affairs, p. 99.

page 314 been an agreed record of the proceedings. In the end, however, Fraser agreed to sign an agreement showing the objectives of the Dominions ‘on questions on which we had a single mind and recording the means we proposed to adopt for future collaboration and cooperation.’

As it turned out, the area of agreement was wide and was quickly defined. When the New Zealand delegation reached Canberra on 15 January it was presented with the papers setting out the Australian Government's views. After two days of careful work, Fraser could tell the opening session of the conference that New Zealand agreed with the Australian attitude on 75 per cent of the matters set down. On the remaining 25 per cent discussions were ‘conducted in a most friendly but nevertheless candid manner’ to such good effect that a formal agreement was prepared and duly signed within six days of the New Zealanders' arrival in Canberra. This quickly achieved and comprehensive document was an indication alike of the basic community of viewpoint between the two governments, of the thoroughness of preliminary discussion and of an unusual determination to waste no time in talking about matters on which the negotiators were already agreed.

The whole document was forward-looking and concerned primarily with the post-war world and the policy decisions that must precede the peacemaking. In Dr Evatt's phrase, Australia and New Zealand were countries ‘whose peoples are vitally concerned in the peace, welfare and good government in the Pacific and both of whom have by their resolute and long sustained war effort earned the right to play a leading role in the future of this part of the world.’ His view, also, was that these two countries were particularly well qualified by special knowledge and experience for leadership in the Pacific, and that a joint Australian and New Zealand policy might well be expected to prevail in the Allied councils. The agreement accordingly provided that the two countries would consult together as far as possible before expressing elsewhere their views on matters of common concern. To make consultation effective and continuous an Australian-New Zealand secretariat was to be set up to organise general collaboration and, where necessary, further conferences. Both governments declared that they should be represented at the highest level in armistice planning and that they should be ‘associated, not only in the membership, but also in the planning and establishment’ of the international body envisaged in the Moscow Declaration. As an interim measure, of the kind envisaged in Article 5 of the Moscow Declaration, they declared that ‘it would be proper for Australia and New Zealand to assume full responsibility for policing or sharing in policing such areas in the Southwest or South Pacific as may from time to time be agreed page 315 upon.’ With an obvious glance at the United States, they added that they accepted ‘as a recognised principle of international practice that the construction and use in time of war by any power of naval, military or air installations, in any territory under the sovereignty or control of another power does not, in itself, afford any basis for territorial claims or rights of sovereignty or control after the conclusion of hostilities.’ No changes in the control of any Pacific islands, it was claimed, should be made except with their agreement. The doctrine of trusteeship was declared to be ‘applicable in broad principle to all colonial territories in the Pacific and elsewhere.’

On the principle of trusteeship, moreover, the two governments based constructive proposals which were to have concrete results. They agreed ‘to promote the establishment at the earliest possible date of a regional organisation with advisory powers which could be called the South Seas Regional Commission.’ Its functions would be to promote the advancement and well-being of native peoples through ‘a common policy on social, economic and political development’ to be established by the powers with responsibilities in this area. Detailed suggestions followed. In more general terms the two governments agreed that there should be as soon as possible a conference among governments with Pacific interests to discuss ‘the problems of security, post-war development and native welfare’, arising in the South Pacific or the South-west Pacific areas.

The two governments' policies on certain other long-standing problems were then made plain. They expressed their preference for an International Air Transport Authority, with a system of air routes owned by British Commonwealth governments as second choice. They also undertook to support each other in maintaining the principle that every government had the right to control migration into and out of its territories. A significant new principle was registered in the agreement that ‘there should be cooperation in achieving full employment in Australia and New Zealand and the highest standards of social security both within their borders and throughout the islands of the Pacific and other territories for which they may be responsible1.’ It may be noted that the provisions in the agreement on international aviation and on native welfare seem to have been desired mainly by the New Zealand Government. The rest would seem, on the whole, to be the result of the enthusiasm of the Australians.

When the text was cabled to Wellington, Cabinet evidently felt some uneasiness and thought that care must be taken in the manner of publication. Such a bilateral pact, it was felt, might strengthen the trends weakening the spirit of unity among the United Nations

1 Current Notes, January 1944, contains text of agreement together with statements by Curtin, Fraser and Evatt.

page 316 and, in particular, might provide ammunition for hostile critics in the United States.1 The documents as finally adopted, however, were much less open to such criticisms than at one time seemed likely. Some of the suggestions which would have been most likely to cause offence were dropped from the agreement on New Zealand's insistence, and some plain speech was deliberately cut out from the report of the proceedings which was sent to the Government of the United Kingdom. For example, New Zealand refused to support a suggestion from Australia that the administration of the Solomon Islands should be transferred to her, together with the British share, or possibly the whole, of the Franco-British condominium of the New Hebrides. In the report to Britain the two dominions decided in the end not to say in so many words that they objected to the United States being given the duty of policing the Pacific south of the Equator, or that they would ‘under no circumstances agree to the establishment of a condominium with the United States as a party’ in New Ireland, New Britain, the Solomons, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, the Cook Islands or Western Samoa. Further, the reference to the decisions at the Cairo Conference, which had done a good deal towards stinging the two dominions into action, was considerably toned down. Those decisions, the delegates had felt, vitally affected the distribution of power in the Pacific and positions of great importance were given away, no consideration being obtained in return, while ‘no special regard was given to the interests of unrepresented countries like Australia and New Zealand.’ In the end the Australian and New Zealand report to the British Government gave a broad hint of discontent on this matter, not as originally proposed a blunt, if not violent, protest. Both the text, then, and the confidential documents explaining it were carefully drafted, and Fraser in particular emphasised ‘that neither the holding of this Conference, nor the agreement resulting from it is, in any sense, a departure from the principles of the British Commonwealth of Nations, membership of which is the very forefront of the policy of both Australia and New Zealand.’
In this spirit the agreement was generally accepted in New Zealand. In particular, the Opposition accepted the substance of the agreement and agreed that there was nothing in it to disturb New Zealand's relations with the United States, and that there was no good reason why, in taking care of her own interests, New Zealand should not maintain a good-neighbour policy with America. Holland's criticism was of a machinery character. He thought that Parliament should have been consulted and that the official Oppo-

1 NZ Minister of External Affairs to HCNZ, Canberra, 21 Jan 1944.

page 317 sition
should have been represented in discussions which would be apt to bind future governments as well as that now holding office.1 Nevertheless, all the tact of which Evatt was capable could not disguise the fundamental character of the agreement. Two small powers had reacted against the secrecy with which Roosevelt and Churchill had proceeded at Moscow and Cairo and Teheran and, without consulting their great allies, had firmly asserted their right to be considered as full and equal partners in all policy-making relating to their own part of the world. They had, moreover, and again without obtaining a clearance from London and Washington, announced in quite concrete terms policies which they proposed to advocate. In Australia this aspect of the agreement was strongly criticised by a chain of newspapers under the control of Sir Keith Murdoch and by the parliamentary opposition led by R. G. Menzies. The main ground of objection was the assertion in the agreement of rights over the South Pacific area, a claim which was felt likely to offend Australia's friends in the United States and in Britain. In addition, Menzies strongly criticised one aspect of the agreement which, on the face of it, represented a distinct departure from the main trend of New Zealand's own foreign policy. ‘By its crude insistence on the regional idea regardless of what the rest of the world may be thinking,’ said Menzies, ‘the agreement ignored the vital truth that peace was indivisible. By some queer atavism it reverted to what was only isolationism with a slight territorial extension2.’

The pact was, however, welcomed in Great Britain. The newspapers praised it. The British Government, too, expressed itself as favourably disposed. It welcomed ‘any steps that may lead to a strengthening of the ties between members of the British Commonwealth’, and cautiously hoped that ‘arrangements now made between Australia and New Zealand will assist to this result3.’

American reaction, as was to be expected, was altogether another matter. The pact was professedly a claim for a share in basic planning for the Pacific and a protest against the way the planning had been managed in the past. This was necessarily a challenge to the Americans, whose Chiefs of Staff controlled the strategy of the Pacific war with all its political implications, and whose navy seemed to regard the fight against Japan as its own private affair,4 and to resent

1 Truth, 26 Jan 1944.

2 Murdoch in Melbourne Age, 18 Feb 1944; Menzies in Sydney Daily Telegraph, 1 Apr 1944.

3 SSDA to NZ Minister of External Affairs, 12 Feb 1944.

4 McNeill, pp. 161 and 192. In May 1944 Admiral King proposed to forestall any possible claim by Australia and New Zealand to a share in deciding the disposal of the Marshall and Caroline islands by declining to use their forces in the operations for the capture of these islands. It appears that King and other senior officers in Washington reacted sharply against the Australian—New Zealand Pact, which they regarded as an attempt to exclude America from the South Pacific. There was no failure in co-operation, however, with Nimitz and the commanders in the field.

page 318 the intrusion of other American agencies—let alone the representatives of minor foreign powers. Moreover, American habits in conducting their politics gave publicity to much plainness of speech. The pact, accordingly, was followed by an increased unwillingness on the part of the American Navy to use New Zealand forces in active operations against the Japanese. In the American press there was the expected outburst among papers known to be virulently anti-British, but echoed in this case by papers under the personal influence of Frank Knox, Secretary to the Navy. In Congress there were some picturesque, if perhaps not ultimately important, expressions of opinion. What are we fighting for, asked Senator Shipstead: ‘is it really for the socialisation of much of Europe, or for the creation of some hybrid Australian-European sovereignty over the entire Western and Southern Pacific Oceans?1’ The two dominions, said Representative Richards, had been saved from destruction by American arms. This sturdy race who would die rather than lose their liberties and who knew that their defence depended on the United States, which must therefore have bases, nevertheless laid claim to a predominant share in disposing of the Pacific islands when American boys were dying by thousands in the defence of the South Pacific area.2

The comment of the American Government when it at last arrived was both cautious and sensible. Cordell Hull remarked that anything in the agreement referring to territories other than those possessed by the two dominions was, of course, entirely without prejudice to the rights of other countries. He suggested that undue haste should not be shown in launching a general conference dealing with Pacific problems, since premature discussion might very well weaken rather than promote unity of attitude among the United Nations. He said, further, that it was desirable ‘to agree upon arrangements for a general international security system before attempting to deal with problems of regional security.’ If a premature attempt were made to deal with the Pacific as a special problem, this example might be followed and development of a general system of security prejudiced. On the whole, however, the State Department's view seemed to be that the pact was an advance statement of the attitude Australia and New Zealand were likely to take in negotiations on the issues involved. There was therefore no reason to take up, at that stage, the points on which the United States might not agree with the objectives of the pact.

Australia and New Zealand had agreed ‘that within the framework of a general system of world security a regional zone of defence

1 Quoted in Melbourne Age, 17 Feb 1944.

2 Quoted in Melbourne Argus, 20 Apr 1944.

page 319 comprising the South West and South Pacific areas shall be established and that this zone should be based on Australia and New Zealand stretching through the arc of islands north and north-east of Australia to Western Samoa and the Cook Islands.’ Neither dominion, however, seems to have considered that the Canberra system might be taken as a precedent for regional security systems. In his reply to the Secretary of State, Fraser wrote that ‘In the view of the New Zealand Government, which is shared by the Commonwealth, the preservation of peace can only be maintained effectively under a world system of security and not under a number of systems of regional security.’ At the same time New Zealand recognised ‘the practical worth of a zone of regional—in the sense of local—defence as distinct from a zone of regional security for the preservation of peace1.’ The distinction is perhaps rather fine. However, the desire to avoid regional pacts, if possible, had been expressed in the Government's memorandum of 1936 on the reform of the Covenant. This memorandum remained the basis of New Zealand's views on the new international organisation,2 and the opposition to regionalism was repeatedly emphasised during 1944. Indeed, it was Fraser's main point in May 1944 when a conference of Commonwealth premiers discussed the views on the new security organisation which the United Kingdom proposed to place before the Russian and American governments.
The point gained some prominence because of a paper which Churchill laid before that conference, proposing a series of ‘Regional Councils’, whose representatives together with those of the four powers were to compose the ‘World Peace Council’. Churchill seems to have felt that this scheme might help in the building of a United States of Europe. Fraser had very strong objections to it. He felt that it might lead to powers being reluctant to co-operate against aggressors outside their own area, and might also be a source of discord between Commonwealth countries in different areas. New Zealand as a small power would wish to make its own voice heard, and not lose identity in a regional organisation. In particular, ‘New Zealand feels that a Pacific or Asiatic Region, regarded as a permanent unit, is an unreal conception.’ There was surely in Fraser's mind the fear that New Zealand and Australia might be swamped in a Regional Council predominantly Asiatic. New Zealand, accordingly, together with Canada put up a stubborn resistance to Churchill's ‘regionalist offensive’. Nevertheless, the regional proposals were incorporated in the Foreign Office paper which was prepared for the guidance of the British delegation at

1 PM to US Chargéa d'Affaires, Wellington, 25 Feb 1944.

2 Fraser to Berendsen, 8 Aug 1944.

page 320 the coming three-power talks. The argument, accordingly, continued; but when the talks actually took place at Dumbarton Oaks in September 1944, the United Kingdom delegation did not press for regional arrangements.

On the issue of regionalism, then, New Zealand differed substantially from the British viewpoint in 1944, or at least from the viewpoint of Churchill, and defended her attitude with some vigour. On another current problem, that of trusteeship, New Zealand found herself at variance with Britain and more in line with the United States. Here she could take a common stand with Australia. It was an odd circumstance that after both world wars the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand distinguished themselves by their strong views on the colonial question, but in 1945 they took a line precisely opposite to that of their 1919 predecessors. Hughes and Massey were opposed to any international supervision even in the administration of territories taken from the Germans; Evatt and Fraser wished to see such supervision extended to all colonial territories irrespective of the mode by which they had been acquired. The trusteeship issue as it appeared to them in 1944 was in the broadest terms defined in a paper prepared by the New Zealand delegation for the Australia-New Zealand conference of November of that year. The trusteeship principle, wrote the New Zealanders, ‘asserts that colonies are not to be used as pawns in the game of international politics, that the wellbeing and development of native peoples is the first consideration and forms a sacred trust of civilisation. The principle has been so long and so well argued as to be no longer questioned. But the application of the principle is contested, the crucial point being supervision.’

As an aspect of the problem of international security, trusteeship may appear somewhat of a side issue. Nevertheless, it bulked largely in New Zealand's thinking about the post-war settlement. The welfare of colonial peoples offered a field in which the Government could push those benevolent ideals which on the whole had been sadly baulked by the general trend of international politics. There were also practical considerations involved. Despite a certain uneasiness about the Cook Islands, New Zealand spokesmen felt that the members of the British Commonwealth had nothing to fear from an international investigation of their record as colonial powers, but that a reform of the administration of certain other Pacific territories was necessary, if only for the security of other countries in the Pacific area. It was felt at the time that such reasoning applied particularly to Tahiti and to New Caledonia, but there were other territories in the Pacific which were thought to be badly administered and where ‘social services were neglected and the native populations exploited.’ The New Zealand view was that, in principle, page 321 members of the United Nations must be restored to the status and the territories which they had enjoyed before the war, but that means must be found to safeguard the interests of the native races. The solution, in Fraser's view, was the establishment of an international body which would supervise, but not administer, colonial territories and thus not infringe the sovereignty of the present owners. New Zealand's enthusiasm for such lines of thinking was naturally increased by the belief that the principles of trusteeship were strongly supported by the United States Government. In November 1944, for example, Fraser suggested to the British Government that the United States might make its acceptance of an international security organisation dependent upon the supervision of colonies by an international body,1 and in April 1945 Berendsen for New Zealand expressed to the Commonwealth Conference the strong opinion that action must be taken to meet the suspicions, however unjustified, with which the Americans regarded British colonial policy.2 His argument ran that ‘unless some concrete step could be taken to remove the misconceptions prevalent not only among the American public at large, but particularly in the United States Senate’, the success of the efforts then being made to build up a system of collective security would be gravely prejudiced.

Both the idealism and the opportunist calculations which caused New Zealand to support the principle of trusteeship were shared with Australia. The matter was referred to in the Canberra Agreement in clauses which were apparently due to New Zealand rather than to Australian initiative, and was discussed again at a conference between the two dominions held in Wellington in November 1944. It was then agreed between them that the international trusteeship body should be given the right to inspect dependent territories. This last suggestion had strong implications, and on the personal appeal of Sir Harry Batterbee, British High Commissioner, was represented in the published summary of conclusions by the comparatively innocuous statement that representatives of the trusteeship authority should visit dependent territories. Even so, the United Kingdom Government was extremely embarrassed by this dominion declaration of support for an active trusteeship body. In an unusually sharp comment, it expressed opposition to the ‘control’ of colonies by an international body and declared that ‘in our view in a matter of this kind all members of the British Commonwealth ought to take every care to coordinate as far as possible their respective views before entering public declarations of policy. We can only express our regret that this public announcement has been

1 NZ Minister of External Affairs to SSDA, 19 Nov 1944.

2 ‘To Americans - by virtue of their past - Britain has remained the symbol of all Imperialism.’—Wilmot, p. 632.

page 322 made on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand governments without any prior consultation with, or warning to us1.’ The replies of both Fraser and Evatt were, to say the least, unrepentant. They maintained firmly, though with differing degrees of tactfulness, their right both to form and to publicise dominion policy in the matter. Fraser explained, moreover, that his own views had been ‘made very plain’ at the Commonwealth Conference in London, and that they would be advocated by the New Zealand Government ‘when invited to express their opinion on the establishment of a general security organisation2.’ In the vigorous correspondence arising from this incident the two dominion governments were, perhaps, a little unmindful of the protests registered by themselves when the United Kingdom Government had recently proceeded without adequate consultation among members of the Commonwealth, and the British Government was obviously apprehensive lest dominion precipitancy might have prejudiced further negotiations concerning trusteeship.
Within a few weeks of this correspondence, however, the whole problem took on a dramatically different aspect. At Yalta, it seems, Churchill was confronted by a consensus of anti-colonial feeling uniting Roosevelt and Stalin, and indeed it seems that at this time some American eyes looked with even greater suspicion on British than on Russian intentions for the post-war world.3 Accordingly, when Churchill was presented with suggestions for five-power discussions on the machinery for international trusteeship, he ‘exploded with wrath’ and declared that he would never ‘consent under any circumstances to the United Nations thrusting interfering fingers into the very life of the British Empire.’ His notion was apparently that the Americans were proposing international control over colonial areas in general terms and including, therefore, British colonies. He was somewhat pacified, therefore, when they made it clear that they had in mind only the application of trusteeship to enemy territories, and not to any part of the British Empire; and he insisted that the point should be made quite clear.4 Accordingly a secret protocol of the conference declared that consultation on trusteeship was to be subject to its limitation to League of Nations mandates, former enemy territory and other territories voluntarily placed under trusteeship; but there was no discussion of the actual territories which it was proposed should be brought under the new trusteeship arrangements. Churchill's view was thus made clear; and it was accepted by the Americans. By this time, the American

1 SSDA to NZ Minister of External Affairs, 14 Nov 1944.

2 Minister of External Affairs to SSDA, 19 Nov 1944.

3 Wilmot, p. 632.

4 McNeill, p. 554; Hopkins Papers, Vol. II, p. 854.

page 323 Government was no longer inclined to push the idea of trusteeship in its wider implications. To the grave disappointment of Cordell Hull, the issue had, on the insistence of the Chiefs of Staff, been shelved during the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. The leaders of the American services, more particularly the Navy, with influential support in Congress, had in fact forced their government to reconsider the boldly liberal attitude in the matter of colonial policy with which Roosevelt and Hull had been for long so intimately connected.1 Concern for future bases had temporarily prevailed.
When the dominion delegates met in London in April, the Colonial Secretary reported to them that at Yalta the United States officials had shown little if any interest in the improvement of administration for the benefit of native peoples. ‘It was clear that they were principally concerned to seek ways and means of acquiring Japanese islands in a manner which would not adversely affect their own public opinion.’ There had been signs at the end of 1944 that the British Colonial Office was prepared to consider a system of international supervision covering all dependent territories.2 But in a statement to Parliament in March 1945 Churchill specifically excluded British colonial territories from any discussion on the matter.3 Trusteeship was placed first on the agenda of a Commonwealth meeting so that it could be discussed before the United Kingdom took part in the five-power discussions on trusteeship, and Fraser and Evatt faced something like a firm agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. They were not dismayed, but urged again that the British Commonwealth had nothing to fear from submitting to an international inquiry into its colonial administration, and emphasised that in their view this would not involve any interference with its sovereign rights. They were told that the British Government, anxious to meet in this matter the viewpoint of the Australian and New Zealand governments, had decided to accept the clause of the Yalta protocol which provided that parent states might voluntarily place non-mandated territories under mandate. The British, however, did not intend to apply this principle to their own colonies. Their view was that, if they did so, their example would not be followed by other states. They feared that it would create a feeling of impermanence and that many of the colonial peoples themselves would react unfavourably to such a change. Fraser was frankly dissatisfied with this position. He felt that the United Kingdom was in danger of abdicating its moral leadership in colonial affairs and that ‘it would be

1 See McNeill, particularly p. 597, note 1.

2 Colonial Office memorandum of 21 Dec 1944.

3 Hansard, Vol. 409, Col. 1394.

page 324 better for the United Kingdom government not to accept the principle of trusteeship at all than to accept it and refuse to apply it to their own territories1.’ New Zealand would have to make its own position clear at the San Francisco Conference, where the United Kingdom might find itself ‘isolated from the United States and in the bad company of the predatory colonial powers.’

In the British Commonwealth discussions in April, therefore, Australia and New Zealand stood together in expressing with some vigour as against British ideas the view that trusteeship, conceived in its widest implications, and including the conception of account-ability, was an element of first-class importance in planning for the post-war world. This disagreement with Britain, at least so far as New Zealand was concerned, extended to the fundamental character of an international organisation to preserve peace. The New Zealand view in 1944 and 1945 was, as it had been in 1936, that the Covenant of the League of Nations was a fundamentally sound basis on which to build. In August 1944 Carl Berendsen, then New Zealand Ambassador to Washington, had addressed the United Kingdom delegates to the Dumbarton Oaks Conference and used terms which he might well have found appropriate six or eight years earlier. ‘If,’ he said, ‘we were to attempt to draw up a plan for a new organisation we would begin by taking a copy of the Covenant and a pencil, and we would not pencil very much.’ The causes of the failure of the League, he said, were moral, not mechanical; it was not the fault of its structure but that ‘the members of the League were not prepared to fulfil the undertakings that they had accepted.’ Though the Covenant would have to be modified to bring in the United States, which had never joined the League, and Russia, which had been expelled from it, the smaller the changes made the more likely it would be, he thought, that the new organisation would function effectively.

This being so, he was highly critical of the British proposals as they then stood. These, he said, amounted to ‘very little more than an undertaking by the Four Great Powers to meet from time to time to discuss the situation as it appeared, and to decide what they thought might best be done, and in taking this course they expected the assistance and collaboration of the smaller powers.’ In this situation ‘the force to be put at the disposal of the new organisation …. was to be used, not in support of any pledges, rules or undertakings, or openly accepted principles of justice and peace, but to support the “ad hoc” decisions of unknown people, at unknown times, in unknown circumstances on unknown principles.’ Berendsen believed ‘there was throughout the world a vast reservoir

1 The phrase in quotation marks was used by Dr Evatt.

page 325 of public opinion in favour of the automatic application of sanctions against aggressors which could be tapped now’, but would not, he feared, ‘be available in the unknown circumstances of the future.’ Moreover, to exclude the effective collaboration of the smaller powers would be to create an organisation which would be ‘the negation in the international field of those principles of democracy for which this war is being fought’; and there was grave danger that such an organisation would become ‘merely another alliance with the obvious fate of all alliances.’ He reminded delegates ‘that we cannot expect the peace to be preserved by force in the long run unless we in our turn insist, because it is morally right to do so, and because from the most selfish and individual point of view of our own interests it is wise to do so, in endeavouring to level up the good things of the world between nations, just as most civilised countries are endeavouring to level them up today between their citizens1.’

These remarks are the most eloquent and comprehensive of the many presentations made during 1944 and 1945 of New Zealand's views on the matter, or at least of the views of the Prime Minister, of Berendsen, and of Fraser's advisers in the External Affairs Department. In 1936 the ideals of the League of Nations had gripped the imagination not only of the Labour Party leaders, but of an important minority of New Zealanders both inside and outside the party. There is little convincing evidence for a similar wide currency of those ideals in 1944. The fact is, however, that Fraser held to them still and agreed substantially with the exposition of New Zealand policy made by Berendsen in August 1944 and on other occasions. Of the two men, Berendsen was perhaps the more doctrinaire. An important exchange of letters took place between them in June 1944 which indicated their agreement on points of substance, though with a suggestion that on points of detail Fraser would be comparatively pliant, or at least that he would be prepared for fluidity of interpretation. On a very controversial constitutional issue, for example, he reflected that ‘even if at first the Council is the major authority in the new World Organization there will probably be a repetition of the experience of the League. The Council under the Covenant was to have been the pivot but the Assembly very soon came to exercise general supervision over all the work of the League, even on matters explicitly entrusted to the Council. In short the Assembly continually gained in prestige not because it was the sovereign body in the League but because it was the universal body2.’

1 NZ Minister, Washington, to Minister of External Affairs, 16 Aug 1944.

2 Minister of External Affairs to NZ Minister, Washington, 8 Aug 1944.

page 326

In New Zealand's thinking, then, there was room enough for differences on points of detail. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister and his chief associates and advisers remained convinced that the new world security organisation should follow the same basic lines as they had advocated in the discussions surrounding the reform of the League of Nations in 1936. Moreover, their viewpoint on this matter aroused no serious political opposition. On this issue, then, Peter Fraser could in 1944 and 1945 genuinely speak for New Zealand as he had done in those far-off days before the war. This time, however, he had behind him a rather weary acquiescence rather than the drive of an active and influential minority.