"Insiders and outsiders : a social history of fishing in the Chatham Islands circa 1910 to 1975 focussing on the crayfish boom : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
This thesis argues that the crayfish boom on the Chatham Islands (which occurred between 1966 and 1969) cannot be studied in isolation in order to understand its effects upon the islanders. Rather, it must be placed in the wider context of relations between the Chatham Islands and New Zealand. To this end, it analyses the social history of fishing from 1910 to 1975, identifying a number of themes in the development of the Chathams fishing industry that resurfaced in the crayfish boom. Two recurring complaints were that the government repeatedly ignored requests to improve the Islands infrastructure and implement conservation measures. It suggests that the fishermen shared many of the characteristics of a "tight working class" group (as opposed to a upper class capitalist group) and that this may have influenced the perceptions of government officials towards the islanders, particularly during World War Two. Class issues and perceptions of continuing neglect are put forward as underlying factors in the ongoing tensions between 'insiders' (those who lived on the island) and 'outsiders' (those who came from outside the island, particularly fishermen and government officials). These tensions were particularly evident in disputes about employing Italian fishermen in the 1950s and clashes between locals and 'outsider' fishermen during the crayfish boom. The thesis demonstrates that the crayfish boom raised serious issues including: repeated (yet unheeded) calls for conservation measures, pollution caused by eviscerating crayfish at sea, and the social issues arising from inadequate infrastructure, piracy, violence and marine safety. It demonstrates that failed conservation measures coincided with conservation debates in the 1972 New Zealand election, the same year in which the long-awaited Economic Survey of the Chathams was conducted. The change of government that year led to hopes that the social and environmental issues raised during the crayfish boom would finally be addressed. Although some progress was made, it is argued that many issues remained unresolved. At a wider level, the thesis investigates the relationship between the Chatham Islanders and the government of New Zealand. It demonstrates that, despite government actions, islanders' perceptions of themselves as being geographically, economically and politically marginalised endured.