The period between the two world wars saw two major changes in colonial administration in the Pacific. The era of pacification was over and attention could now be given to the deliberate change of indigenous societies in accordance with the prevailing philosophies of government. Second, there was an acceptance in principle that the ultimate purpose of those changes was the eventual restoration of independence.
The First World War brought little drama to the Pacific islands. The German colonies were promptly occupied by the armed forces of Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and were governed under military regimes which preserved the status quo as far as that was possible for the duration of the war. Direct involvement by Pacific islanders was limited to the service in Europe of a Maori battalion and of a Fijian labour unit, the latter restricted to non-combatant duties.
Of far greater importance was the doctrine among the victor nations at the peace negotiations that the principle of national self- determination should prevail in future international politics. In other words, imperialist domination of subject nations was to cease, and Germany and Turkey were to lose their imperial possessions. It was recognised, however, that not all of these possessions at that time were able to stand alone as independent nations; so it was decided that they should be entrusted to an independent, international body which would supervise their future development. In this way, the Permanent Mandates Commission of the new League of Nations was established, and those imperial remnants outside Europe were given over to various nations to be administered on its behalf. In the Pacific, German Samoa was allocated to New Zealand; Nauru and New Guinea were allocated to Australia; and the Micronesian groups north of the equator were allocated to Japan.
Each of these territories was designated a 'C-class' mandate, which meant that in the present state of social and economic development,
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Publication information: Book title: A History of the Pacific Islands. Contributors: I. C. Campbell - Author. Publisher: University of Canterbury Press. Place of publication: Christchurch, N.Z.. Publication year: 1989. Page number: 170.
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