By Richard M. Langworth
Long ago when Finest Hour and its editor were young, we planned an issue for each of the “Great Dominions.” FH 44 was our “Canada Number” in 1984, with a sequel, FH 154, in 2012. In 1988, FH 59 covered Australia, but then we lost the thread, and only now offer readers the “New Zealand Number.”
Why? Churchill never visited here. It is thousands of miles from anywhere, with only 4.5 million souls. Churchill didn’t visit Australia, either, yet we found much to say about that relationship, as this one.
Accordingly we contacted Mike Groves in Auckland. We’ve had New Zealand members for most of our history. Today Mike’s “Churchill Dining Club” brings North Islanders together thrice a year to dine, talk Churchill, enjoy lively repartee and, if they choose, to end the evening with brandy and a cigar.
Mike not only wrote the lead article, but introduced us to diplomat and writer Gerald Hensley, who compares the working partnership of Prime Ministers Churchill and Fraser—politically worlds apart, who found in each other a paragon and paladin. Intrinsic to his story is the illustrious General Bernard Freyberg, whom Churchill greeted after First Alamein with “thank God you are here,” and recommended for the Garter, to go along with his Victoria Cross.
These features are followed logically by some on Holland, whose people play a vital role in New Zealand life, as Mike Groves informs us: “The first European known to have seen New Zealand was a Dutchman, Abel Tasman, in 1642. After World War II, when things were grim in Holland, there was considerable emigration to New Zealand. Indeed from 1951 to 1968, the Dutch were the largest single group of non-British immigrants. The Wellington government encouraged this because the country needed skilled workers, the Dutch were very hard-working, and they integrated easily into our national life. The Dutch remain a very significant group.” (See “The Case of Dutch Kiwis,” by Suzan van der Pas and Jacques Poot: http://bit.ly/17jPJDJ.)
Churchill connections aside, the theme appealed personally. I have long admired New Zealand. I hope to get there before I die. You may come to think, as you read these pages, that this is a special place. To have forged prosperity with sensible combinations of enterprise and government; to have provided for all the people without burdening their heirs with endless debt—these are notable accomplishments. Among the great democracies, New Zealand may well be the outstanding model for the world today.
In Holland in 1946 (page 28), Churchill posed questions to test the existence of freedom:
“Does the Government in any country rest upon a free, constitutional basis?…Is there the right of free expression of opinion, free support, free opposition, free advocacy and free criticism of the Government of the day? Are there Courts of Justice free from interference by the Executive or from threats of mob violence, and free from all association with particular political parties?…Will there be fair play for the poor as well as for the rich? Will there be fair play for private persons as well as for Government officials? Will the rights of the individual, subject to his duties to the State, be maintained, asserted and exalted? In short, do the Government own the people, or do the people own the Government?”
Here in this distant land under the Southern Cross are arrayed what Churchill called the “title-deeds” upon which liberty is founded.
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