Remembering seafarers : the (missing) history of New Zealanders employed in the Mercantile Marine during World War 1 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
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The story of the New Zealand men and women who were employed in the Mercantile Marine during World War 1 is absent from the historiography. This thesis contends that this workforce of New Zealanders existed, was substantial in number and that their human stories are missing from historiography despite there being extensive wartime stories to tell. A workforce of New Zealand merchant seafarers existed during World War 1 and is definable and recognisable as a group. Each individual within this group is not easily identifiable because detailed and completed records of their identity and service were never centrally maintained. New Zealand maritime and World War 1 histories have not addressed the seafarers’ intimate human stories and have instead focus on either Naval or industry stakeholder’s organisational history of the war period. This is clearly evident from a detailed review of relevant material published during the century since the declaration of World War 1 in 1914. The crew employed on the Union Steam Ship Company’s twin screw steamship Aparima provide a small but enlightening example of the human stories that are absent. Their individual stories encompass many aspects of everyday experiences such as the ever present danger of enemy attack and the impact of the war on the crew and their families and loved ones. A microhistory of New Zealanders employed on Aparima refutes by example, the argument that World War 1 New Zealand merchant seafarers did not have a unique story to tell and therefore they are absent from historiography. The history of New Zealand maritime and World War 1 historiography provides possible reasons for the missing history, as does the demographics of this workforce. The primary rationale identified include government and military editorial influence, a sense that merchant seafarers belonged to the British rather than New Zealand Mercantile Marine, and a belief that they did not fit alongside the ANZAC legend of the heroic soldier sacrificing all for King and Country.
Merchant mariners, New Zealand, World War I, World War One, WWI, Merchant seafarers, New Zealand, Mercantile marine, New Zealand maritime history, TSS Aparima, Aparima (steamship)