O’Brien, Patricia: Anzacs in the Pacific

O’Brien, Patricia

The ANZACs in the Pacific – myths in Empire‘, Australian Outlook, 12 June 2015

Notes the 1914 actions by New Zealand in Samoa and Australia in New Guinea and how they developed into post-war colonialism.

The end of the Great War in Europe meant a colonial surge in the Pacific as men – many of them ANZACs – highly trained, equipped with the latest military hardware and deeply scarred by the hyper-violence of the Great War took over these colonies … Both nations saw their roles in New Guinea and Samoa as doing their “white man’s burden”, their imperial duty … The prestige of the white race was under siege, and colonial populations became increasingly difficult to govern.

There were punitive expeditions and subjugation of unrest.

In New Guinea and Samoa, ANZAC mythology acquired a new and overlooked dimension. Here it was a tool applied in fraught colonial situations, to justify subjugating Pacific peoples. The ANZAC myth operated in many other ways in New Zealand and Australia’s Pacific mandates. Perhaps, now that the centenary of Gallipoli has passed, it may be time to look at the wider implications of ANZAC mythology and the actions of ANZACs in the Pacific.

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