'We must contribute' : the Pahiatua region and the Second World War 1939-45 : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Arts in History, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
When war broke out in September 1939 approximately 500 men and women from the Pahiatua region enlisted in the armed forces of New Zealand, the British Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. But what was life like at home while these men and women served? This thesis examines the role the Second World War played on a ‘typical’ example of rural New Zealand, the Pahiatua region. It focuses on three key issues for the region during this time, the impact of the war, how business was affected, and the role played by local and national government in the region.
New Zealand during the Second World War has been a source of previous research. However, the majority of this research has concentrated on either a national perspective or a specific theme. Very little has been written on regional history during this time. This thesis attempts to address this by looking at a region that has barely been referred to in the secondary sources.
This thesis sheds new light on the Pahiatua region during the Second World War. Far from being a silent observer the region played an active role in supporting the war effort both socially and financially. There was very much a feeling in the region of ‘we must contribute’.