History of New Zealand

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The Dominions, and the Statute of Westminster

A part of New Zealand / airnewzealand.ar.com

A part of New Zealand / airnewzealand.ar.com

Readers become confused by the essential differences between dominions and colonies and protectorates. The British Empire, when it existed, embraced all three. ‘Dominions’ was the name used for countries in the Empire that had a certain degree of self-government, but owed allegiance to the British Crown. The first country to be called a Dominion was Canada (1867), followed by Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and, at last, the Irish Free State in 1921. Their new independence was officially recognised at the Imperial Conference in 1926. Actual power to pass legislation independently of the Government was confirmed by the Statute of Westminster.

In 1931 this Statute gave freedom to the Dominions. Following the Great War these Dominions had been accepted as national states in their own right, though they were still part of the Empire. They joined the ill-fated League of Nations (q.v.) but it was seen (by them) as if their ‘freedom’ was still limited. (more…)

England versus New Zealand (1842)

The Haka Dance in 2011 / newzealand.com

The Haka Dance in 2011 / newzealand.com

At all international rugger matches played by the ‘All-Blacks’ (New Zealand) against an arguably apprehensive adversary, the fifteen big men perform a war dance especially designed to terrify the opposite team and probably the referee too. The dance and accompanying raucus cries are Maori. (more…)

By | 2015-02-20T18:01:41+00:00 February 20th, 2015|History of New Zealand|0 Comments

War in the air Part II: Per Ardua Ad Astra



A scene from the film The Battle of Britain / omfdb.org

A scene from the film The Battle of Britain / omfdb.org

  The Blizkrieg from Nazi Germany that opened the Second War in 1939 showed that apart from tank power, air power was a vital component of Hitler’s war efforts. Germany pounded the meagre defences of Poland from the air, breaking communications, causing death and chaos on a scale not known by the suffering Poles not even during their centuries of abuse by neighbours. Dive-bombers called Stukas were used by the Luftwaffe, and a malevolent touch was added by their fitted sirens, terrorizing populations as the bombers hurtled almost vertically down from brilliant blue skies, releasing their lethal cargo at the last moment before straightening out. Many pilots, very young and with very little experience, did not straighten out, with the result that the Stuka made a bigger hole in the earth than its bombs. The efficient and very fast Messerschmidt I09 and 110 fighters attacked the ramshackle Polish aircraft without mercy, destroying most of the aeroplanes on the ground even before the pilots could climb into them. Many of these young ill-disciplined but courageous young men escaped to England, and were to take an important part in the air Battle of Britain. Assault parachutists were dropped from heavier German aircraft – a new use of air power pioneered by the Germans and quickly copied by Germany’s enemies. Parachutists were extensively used in the attack and invasion of Crete in 1941. (more…)

(Thomas) Woodrow Wilson

The twenty-seventh President of the United States was born in 1856 in Virginia, son of a Presbyterian minister. The family were slave-owners. Thirty-four years later Woodrow was made a professor at Princeton, one of the ‘Ivy League’ American universities of great prestige. He taught History and Political Science and in 1902 became president of the university.

Soon he was elected Governor of New Jersey, where he easily gained the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, promising a ‘New Freedom’ by destroying the trusts, decreasing taxes and tariffs, and beginning a severe revision of the financial system which was the life blood of ‘The American Way of Life’. He was the first Southerner to become President since A. Johnson, and the first Democrat. (more…)

The campaign in North-West Europe (September 1944 – May 1945)

      This campaign was the advance of the Allies through France following the successful invasion of D-Day. It is important because it contains the blindest and most incomprehensible mistake made by a commander-in-chief in all History. But we will come to that later.


The Durham Light Infantry moving up / durhamlightinfantry.webs.com

The Durham Light Infantry moving up / durhamlightinfantry.webs.com

Combined with the Soviet invasion of Germany from the east, the campaign would lead to the end of the Second World War and the inevitable Treaties. Following the Normandy invasion most German armies were withdrawn from France, though not all. British and Commonwealth troops entered Brussels on 3 September, 1944, and Antwerp was relieved one day later. The port could not be used immediately because pockets of German resistance had been left behind in the mouth of the Scheldt, and had to be dealt with. (more…)

A brief history of spectator sports


Le Mans 1955: Pierre Levegh lies near his crashed car that killed over 80 spectators /documentingreality.com

Le Mans 1955: Pierre Levegh lies near his crashed car that killed over 80 spectators /documentingreality.com

Most (but not all) of the sports which are super-popular with the public today were invented, improved and regulated in the independent private schools of Victorian Britain; that is to say, what in England are still called ‘the public schools’, as opposed to state ones. The most popular of all – Soccer – was being played in early medieval England, and has always been an almost entirely working-class game. (more…)

The end of the British Empire and imperialism



It is barely seventy-two years since a quarter of the human race lived, toiled, danced and finally died under the Union Jack. It is a very short time in terms of the history of the world, but in that time the British view of themselves, and their nation’s place in that world has altered, perhaps more radically than ever before. No other country has experienced a sudden and dramatic convulsion in its own outlook – no, not even terrible wars, occupation, subjection beneath the heel of an aggressive foreign invader, however awesome their effect, can produce a change in national philosophy as total as that undergone by the British since 1939. While Rome took centuries to crumble, the British Empire vanished almost overnight. (more…)

The twelve basic tenses in English (British or American)


I work  =  I work hard all day



I worked  =  I worked hard all last year.



I will work  =  I will work hard after I have finished my exams.


Present Continuous or Present Progressive: (made with the verb TO BE)

I am working  =  I am working at the moment on a nuclear project.


Present Perfect: (made by using the vern TO HAVE; this tense indicates a mixture of the past and the present)

I have worked  =  I have worked hard all my life.


Past Perfect: (a sense of something that is now in the past, but no longer exists)

I had worked  =  I had worked hard all my life until I retired.


Future Perfect: (a sense of something that lies in the future, but that also has roots in the past and present, always used with the main verb in the past participle – worked)

I will have worked  = I will have worked hard all my life even when I am too old to work . . . because I love work!


Present Perfect Continuous (use of the verbs To HAVE and TO BE plus the main verb. A sense of the present, past and future in a continuous manner):

I have been working  =  I have been working for a considerable time on this project.


Past Perfect Continuous (something that was continuous, but which had to stop)

I had been working for months on the project, but last year I was forced to retire from it!


Future Perfect Continuous (the same as the Future Perfect, but with a continuous sense):

I will have been working on this project for twenty years by this time next year.

(a sense of someone looking back over the last 19 years, while still working, and looking forward to another year’s work, after which the 20 years will be completed)

SPECIAL NOTE:  The Conditional tense is made by adding the word would:-

I would work all the time if I had a job.

I would be working if only I could find a job

I would have been working hard all day if I had not been so lazy!

I would have worked very well as a public relations officer.


Another special note:-  The –ing suffix indicates the Present Participle of the verb: working. The –ed suffix indicates the Past Participle of the verb: worked.


Transitive: Transitive verbs are those which require to be followed by a direct object: example:- These verbs are bloody difficult.  You could not say ‘these verbs are’

The direct object is ‘bloody difficult’.


This is one of the planet’s biggest and most unknown continents. It surrounds the South Pole, and lies almost entirely to the south of latitude 66º 33’ S. This is called ‘The Antarctic Circle’.

     Travellers who have dared to enter this formidable area of the Earth have noted that the sun neither rises at midwinter nor sets at midsummer. At the South Pole itself the temperature is on average -50º C; this is because an excessively thick icecap covers the continent, forming a huge plateau. Strong winds invariably blow from the centre of the icecap, and it usually too cold to snow. The little snow that does fall takes hundreds of years to change into ice. The ice moves so grindingly slowly that parts of the icecap are millions of years old. (more…)

These sports: where do they come from?

Spectator sports they are called, presumably because they are designed for watching by spectators. Soccer, cricket, boxing, tennis, rugby and athletics were nursed, improved and nurtured in hundreds of independent (public) schools in Victorian Britain. Some, like boxing and athletics, had existed in the time of the original Greek Olympics, but they would have become forgotten relics of the past if it had not been for ‘sportin’ instincts’ of young people from the British Isles. (more…)

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