New Zealand. According to Countryaah, New Zealand signed an agreement in February with Australia to receive 150 of the many boat refugees who seek asylum in Australia each year, but are often placed in refugee centers in small Pacific nations, such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru. The commitment does not mean that New Zealand will expand its refugee reception, but the 150 who come through Australia will be among the 750 refugees that the country receives each year, said New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key. The opposition was critical of the decision.
In April, Parliament passed a new law on same-sex marriage. New Zealand became the first country in the Pacific region and the 14th in the world to approve same-sex marriage. The bill had been opposed by the Catholic Church and other Christian groups, but was approved by 77 votes to 44. Outside Parliament, hundreds of gay rights activists celebrated and said the decision was a milestone for equality.
In June, Parliament voted in favor of stricter asylum laws that, among other things, give the authorities the right to detain refugee groups of at least 30 people for up to six months. According to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, the change in the law was to deter refugee smugglers from taking boat refugees to New Zealand, which they did to Australia. According to the minister, it was only a matter of time before boats with asylum seekers would arrive in New Zealand. The opposition criticized the change in law, as did the human rights organization Amnesty International, which said it was against human rights and the UN Refugee Convention.
An alarm – which later turned out to be false – about lethal bacteria in breast milk replacements from the New Zealand dairy company Fonterra led to a major uproar in August. Suspicious products were recalled, and China and other Asian countries stopped imports of New Zealand milk powder. Fonterra is New Zealand’s largest company and the world’s largest exporter of dairy products. Dairy products account for a quarter of the country’s exports. The government appointed an inquiry which in September announced that there was a false alarm. Controls showed that another, non-lethal, bacterium was found.
New Zealand Literature
New Zealand literature in English is of relatively new date, as immigration to the country began in earnest only in the 1860s. New Zealand depictions of James Cook’s travels in the 18th century, and other texts about the landscape, nature and the encounter between the Maoris and the whites, including in Danish.
Before 1840, in a country with a small population and scattered settlements, there is a lack of written sources, but Maori culture had a strong oral tradition. The first poems were probably Maori with their oral narratives (korero) and song poems (waiata). Some of these were translated by the missionaries. Prior to 1867, the Maori language was also used in schools and by missionaries. Much of this material was used in the construction of a national literature, among others by James Cowan and Johannes Cow Andersen, the Danish-born folklorist and poet who wrote about the country’s mythical past, its nature and folklore.
Other early texts about New Zealand were by British visitors. Alfred Domett (in New Zealand 1842-1871) wrote the epic Ranolf and Amohia (1872), about a love relationship between a white man and a Maori girl, and Samuel Butler, who lived in New Zealand 1858-1865, depicted the country’s mountain world in the first chapters by Erewhon (1872).
New Zealand literature from the pioneer era and the early colonial period 1861–89 was written by emigrant writers who followed the European, mainly Victorian, romantic tradition. These works were often published in England. Henry Butler Stoney’s Taranaki: A Tale (1861, Taranaki: A Story) was one of the first novels published in New Zealand. Early writers include Vincent Pyke and Douglas Ferguson. Such works were characterized by a naive realism, a moralizing didactics and an often strong melodramatic overtone. They were also concerned with the life and history of the Maori as depicted in the many Maori narratives. The country was portrayed as one pastoral paradise. Later, the Senation novel was adapted to conditions in New Zealand. From 1890 came several writers who were born and raised in the country.
The so-called colonial period (1890-1934) was a period influenced by cultural Darwinism and a combination of realism and romance. The literature of the period was also characterized by critical realism, with an increasing number of educational novels. Alan Mulgan’s Spur of Morning (1934) is a good example. Well-known authors of the period are Jane Mander, Edith Searle Grossman, William Satchell and Jean Devanny.
In the years 1935–1964 much of the literature had a socially critical character and, for example, addressed human isolation, both socially and in relation to nature. One could also find elements of Impressionism. Texts by Robin Hyde, John Mulgan, Frank Sargeson, Daniel Marcus Davin and early works by Janet Frame belong to this period, as well as books by renowned crime novelist Ngaio Edith Marsh.
In the 1950s and 1960s there was much discussion about how the national literature should develop. In the novel literature, there are three names in particular that are worth noting from the 1960s: Maurice Gee, Maurice Shadbolt and Janet Frame. Gee and Shadbolt have written traditional and realistic, but at the same time sharply observant novels about New Zealand society. Janet Frame, one of the biggest names, has become internationally known after the release of her three-volume autobiography, which formed the basis for an award-winning film in 1990.
Since the mid-1960s, there has been strong growth in prose literature in general, with several postcolonial texts by other Maori and immigrant writers as well as female writers such as Barbara Anderson, Marilyn Duckworth, Fiona Kidman, Joy Cowley, Amelia Batistich and Yvonne du Fresne. There has been less focus on community criticism and more on depicting the individual in New Zealand society from an existential and humanistic standpoint. Impressionist techniques and metafiction were often used, such as at Shadbolt, Frame, du Fresne and CK Stead. Margaret Mahy is best known by children’s and teen book writers.
With a multitude of literary journals and thus publishing opportunities, the short story has become widely used in New Zealand. The tradition goes back to Katherine Mansfield, who was born in New Zealand but who lived in Europe from 1909. Her imaginative childhood depictions of her upbringing in New Zealand can be compared to James Joyce’s Dubliners, while the rest of her many fine short stories take place in the European environment. Therefore, she belongs to both English and New Zealand literature. When it comes to psychological openness, she has influenced several New Zealand writers, notably Jane Mander and Janet Frame. Contemporary news stories are a lot about longing, alienation in society and recognition of belonging to a hybrid and post-colonial nation. Often these thoughts are presented as small vignettes or sketches. After Mansfield, Frank Sargeson, who lets the underclass come up in social depictions, set the tone for the development of short story art in New Zealand, and more recently Bill Manhire.
Lyricist Jessie Mackay was born in New Zealand, and a champion of social reform and women’s rights. She was a significant poet, and her poetry reflects 19th-century progressive beliefs, liberal principles and sympathy with the oppressed. A later generation of lyricists have partly been inspired by their country’s nature and past, and partly taken up social topics, all influenced by Western European or American literature: Arthur Rex Dugard Fairburn, Charles Brasch, Mary Ursula Bethell, Denis Glover, James Keir Baxter, Ronald Allison Kells Mason and Robin Hyde. Most well-known among the poets in the latter half of the 20th century is Allen Curnow, Fleur Adcock, CK Stead, Lauris Edmond, Vincent O’Sullivan and Elizabeth Smither. Newer lyricists born after World War II are Bill Manhire, Anne French and Ian Wedde. Several of these have also become prominent in the field of drama and prose. Hone Tuwhare is widely recognized and respected as the first Moorish lyricist in English.
As mentioned, the Maori theme in the fiction is not of a new date, but today the poetry of and about the Maori is at the forefront. In the 1970s, the first texts of Moorish authors came in English. From the poetry of the 1980s and 1990s, an even more nuanced picture has emerged as this theme is now illuminated from the inside by a growing number of poets of Moorish and Polynesian descent, such as Keri Hulme and Patricia Grace, as well as Albert Wendt, Witi Ihimaera, Apirana Taylor and Alan Duff. In today’s Moorish literature, the Moorish identity and cultural heritage are expressed. Fembindsverket Te Ao Marama(1992-1996), with Witi Ihimaera as editor-in-chief, is a great presentation of texts in both English and Maori which also includes children’s literature. These authors have contributed to making New Zealand literature known far beyond the borders of the country.
The drama is represented primarily by RAK Mason, Eric Bradwell, Douglas Alexander Stewart and James K. Baxter (who is also known for his plays). A number of lesser-known dramatists have written especially for television. However, since the 1970s, and not least in the 1990s, there has been a marked development in drama with regard to the number of new plays that have been released and listed. Actors such as Bruce Mason have written plays with themes from the Maori people, Mervyn Thompson is known for his expressionist dramas, Roger Hall has written comedies and satires about the middle class. Recent plays of Vincent O’Sullivan, Stuart Hoar, Renée (really Renée Taylor), Michael Lord, Hilary Beaton and Stephen Sinclair shed light on issues of class, ethnicity and national identity.