New Zealand History: The Affirmation of Anti-Nuclear Politics and The Question of The Maori

The war made New Zealand feel that its destiny was now linked to a close collaboration with Australia and the United States, hence the agreement between the three states called by their initials ANZUS (1951), and the application in 1947 of the Statute of Westminster. However, New Zealand remained an integral part of the Commonwealth. In 1949 the Labor Party, defeated by the elections, ceded power to the National Party, which promoted an economic policy based on private initiative. SEATO member (from 1954 to 1977, when the organization was dissolved), New Zealand participated, as an ally of the USA, in the Korean War and the Vietnamese conflict. In 1972, following the discontent aroused by the New Zealand intervention in Vietnam and also following the repercussions of the world economic crisis on the thriving New Zealand economy, the nationalists had to hand over power to Labor. The brief Labor management (1972-75), immediately put into difficulty by the inadequacy of the measures adopted to buffer the economic crisis, gave the start to a new course in foreign policy with the recognition of the governments of Beijing and Hanoi and with the loosening of military ties with SEATO. With the new nationalist government, led by R. Muldoon, New Zealand reaffirmed ties with the United States. CEE, resulting in the closure of the UK market to New Zealand agricultural products. After winning the elections of 1978 and 1981, the Conservatives failed to win a third term and in July 1984 handed over power to Labor David Lange. These introduced significant innovations in the basic orientations of national politics, re-evaluating the position of the country within the framework of its continental space: while the anti-nuclear choice of public opinion indirectly led to the virtual dissolution of the ANZUS and the breakdown of the military alliance with the States. United (1985), as well as the rise of certain tensions with France (due to the experiments it carried out in Mururoa). Relations with the archipelagos-states of the South Pacific were thus intensified, for which New Zealand seemed to aspire to become a coordination pole.

Internal difficulties (among which above all the increase in military spending) in 1989 forced Prime Minister Lange to resign; the office was assumed by Labor Geoffrey Palmer, who soon operated a tendential diplomatic rapprochement with the aforementioned countries. In 1990 the elections were won by the Nationalist Party which continued the liberalization program already started by the last Labor governments, while a debate was developing in the country on the advisability of intervening on the electoral system with proportional corrections. A special referendum was also expressed in this direction (September 1992), while more substantial changes were approved following the 1993 elections still won by the nationalists. On that occasion the electorate had expressed favorably for an increase in the number of seats (from 99 to 120), half of which to be assigned with the proportional system and the rest with the traditional single-member method. The attenuation of the majority, moreover, represented the need to better reflect the political orientations of New Zealand, despite the possible consequent dangers to governability in the event of results that did not present the clear victory of one of the forces in the field. This was a maturation made possible also by the determination of an ever greater convergence of approach on foreign policy issues, which had instead been at the basis of the lively dialectic produced in the first half of the 1980s. XX. The country was now aware of a policy in agreement with Australia aimed at marking a role of defense of the interests of the area, in particular with regard to safeguarding the ecosystem with a rigid anti-nuclear approach. Precisely on this aspect, in fact, there was a new flare of New Zealand foreign policy which, in perfect synchrony with the Australian attitude, was concretized in the suspension (June 1995) of military collaboration with France when it resumed nuclear tests in the Polynesian atolls.. The still unresolved question of the Maori contributed to liven up New Zealand’s political and social dialectic at the end of the second millennium. They claimed adequate compensation for the lands confiscated from them during the colonial period. In 1997, after two years of intense discussion, as a country located in Oceania according to, the New Zealand government offered compensation accompanied by an official apology from Queen Elizabeth II. The November 1999 elections, the second after the 1992 referendum, marked the return to the Labor government, with H. Clark assuming the post of prime minister. The same outcome for the July 2002 elections, which saw Clark reconfirmed as head of the government, like the 2005 legislative elections which again awarded the victory to Labor, even if the Conservatives acquired 20 more seats than in the previous elections. In 2008 the National Party won the political elections, which gained 45% of the votes against 33% of Labor. After nine years and three administration mandates entrusted to Labor Helen Clark, John Key became prime minister for two years at the head of the right-wing party. His party also won the 2011 elections, reconfirming Key as head of government.

New Zealand History