New Nationalism in Australia and New Zealand: The Construction of National Identities by Two Labo(u)r Governments in the Early 1970s



During the 1970s the Whitlam government in Australia and the Kirk government in New Zealand each adopted a policy of new nationalism in an attempt to come to terms with a rapidly changing and increasingly decolonised world marked by the decline of Britain as an economic and military force in the world. In each case this new nationalism prioritised local and national identities over a larger pan-British identity. Both governments were more inward-looking and yet also more engaged with the Asia-Pacific region than their predecessors. They promoted their own national distinctiveness and independence, while also forging closer relationships with each other and the wider region. Both embraced a new understanding of their geographic position and repudiated the idea that Australia and New Zealand were European nations on the edge of Asia. The nationalisms they promoted were remarkably similar, yet there are important differences that reflect their different ethnic makeup and geographic position.