The Great War profoundly affected both New Zealand and its Prime Minister William Massey (1856-1925). Farmer Bill oversaw the dispatch of a hundred thousand New Zealanders, including his own sons, to Middle Eastern and European battlefields. In 1919 he led the New Zealand delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, where it was represented both in its own right and as part of the British Empire. This symbolised its staunch loyalty to Empire and the fact that it had its own particular interests. Massey was largely satisfied with the Versailles Treaty, as New Zealand gained a mandate over Western Samoa, Germany forfeited its other Pacific colonies, and control over Nauru's valuable phosphate deposits was shared between Britain, Australia and New Zealand, rather than simply being given to Australia. He believed that the apparent confirmation of British power improved New Zealand's security, and had little faith in the League of Nations. However, the opposition Labour Party came to believe the League could prevent a major war and made that a cornerstone of their foreign policy in government after 1935.
Their belief that Versailles was unfair to Germany partly influenced them to favour negotiations with Hitler even after the outbreak of war in 1939.
James Watson is Head of School of History, Philosophy and Classics at Massey University, New Zealand. His main interest is New Zealand history, particularly the interaction between technological change and economic, social and political developments. His publications include Links: A History of Transport and New Zealand Society (1996), 'Patriotism, Profits and Problems: New Zealand Farming during the Great War', in John Crawford and Ian McGibbon (eds) and New Zealand's Great War: New Zealand. Professor Alan Sharp is Provost of the Coleraine Campus at the University of Ulster. He joined the History Department at Ulster in 1971 and has been successively Professor of International Studies, a post in which he helped to set up degrees in International Studies and, later, International Politics and Head of the School of History and International Affairs. His major publications include The Versailles Settlement: Peacemaking in Paris, 1919 (1991) amongst others.