The British World and its role in the relationship between New Zealand and the South Cone of South America 1820 – 1914

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This research article traces the little-known relationship between New Zealand and the Southern Cone countries of South America that existed between 1820 and the First World War. While New Zealanders were found throughout Latin America in many occupations, undoubtedly because of the established British presence, the links with the Southern Cone were particularly extensive. The basis of the relationship, which promised then to be ongoing, was the movement of ships, goods, people, animals, plants, know-how, technology and capital across the Pacific, rather than any inter-state relationship and connected Southern British World, with its efficient network of “people, gossip, connections, ideas and identity”, provides an understanding of New Zealand-Southern Cone contact where the transfer into societies with familiar cultural values is of primary interest5. Evidence of the Latin American-New Zealand relationship can be quite fragmentary and tenuous; however, the British presence remains the common thread in New Zealand’s interaction with the Southern Cone between 1820 and 1914.
Latin America played some part in the early history of New Zealand long before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between Mãori and the British in 1840. Organised British settlement in New Zealand, then intensified the connection with the Chilean port of Valparaíso during 1840-1844. A shortage of flour and wheat in New Zealand caused the New Zealand-Valparaíso relationship to be revived during the 1860s and endure until the end of the nineteenth century.
Elsewhere, too, once New Zealand steamships began going to Britain via the east coast of South America, a linkage developed between New Zealand and the Río de la Plata region (the River Plate) and Southern Patagonia from the mid-1880s.

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