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Post-War New Zealanders ~ Not An Intellectual People

April 26, 2011

[  Anyone who ponders the origins of our collective cultural psyche might find this of interest.  No offense intended.

h / t : Chris ]


Aspects of New Zealand culture were not a feature on the 1953  royal tour.

[ The Royal Yacht ~ The S.S. Gothic …  …  yes, it really was called that.  ]

The Queen saw no local plays or films, visited no galleries, read no New Zealand novels.


In 1953 most New Zealanders did not think of themselves as a highly cultured people.


Not surprisingly, intellectuals, feeling ignored and isolated,

painted a less positive view of their fellow nationals.

Appalled at the suppression of civil liberties in the 1951 waterfront industrial dispute,


writer Bill Pearson left the country to pen a fierce portrait of New Zealanders as ‘fretful sleepers’,

a people who were puritanical and repressive,

given over to small-town prejudices and a hypocritical concern for respectability. 3

Others, such as Robert Chapman and Phoebe Meikle,

attacked the separation of gender roles;

and novelists such as Janet Frame, Ian Cross and Sylvia Ashton-Warner

presented an unhappy picture of a society where creative individuals were repressed and race relations poor.

Foreign commentators too began to criticise New Zealanders.

[ … ay ? ]

In The fern and the tiki (1960) a visiting American, David Ausubel,

argued that New Zealanders suffered from an authoritarian education


which created a repressed hostility beneath their calm exterior.


His analysis was not well received.


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