The idea of independence is a favoured theme in discussion of New Zealand's foreign relations and the country's place in the world over the last half century and more. It is both the most common and the most valued interpretation. Not only do many accounts stress New Zealand's increasing independence, but most of their authors have also approved of such a development1. Critical writing is most often directed at identifying New Zealand's lack of independence, not questioning the validity of the goal.2
I do not want to challenge directly the importance of independence in the historical analysis of New Zealand's foreign relations in the present century. Indeed it is precisely because over the last five to six decades so much ink has been spilt in discussing independence that it seems worth standing back and examining the discussion rather than taking 'independence' as a given.
For New Zealand, it is impossible to separate out the notion of independence from the country's status as a part of the British Empire, a 'self- governing colony' since 1856, a 'Dominion' since 1907. The word 'independence' was used in varying ways to identify the relationships of component parts of the Empire to the whole. Four meanings are important for this study. All have been known and understood in New Zealand. Two have been habitually rejected, two as habitually accepted as appropriate. The two rejected meanings were the independence of secessionist nationalism and the____________________