Sunday 12 April 2020

An entire history of NZ in one chart [updated]

Q How do you see all New Zealand's history in one place?
A: By essentialising.

Q: What the hell does that mean?
A: It means examining NZ history for its most essential events, i.e., its most causal, and then mapping out what caused, and what was caused by, those seminal events.

And that's what I've tried to do in this chart showing The Entire History of New Zealand All In One Place, mapped out based on New Zealand's seven essential Anchor Dates

You should read it in conjunction with my explanation (and argument) for those seven essential dates.

Read it across, from each essential Anchor date, and you see everything essential happening in that era -- history as a cross-section of the various strands that form it. Read it up and down, from each essential anchor date, and you see everything essential caused by and causing that seminal event.

So, for instance, the various strands of modern post-war New Zealand look essentially like this:

And the events, actions and activities that went into that momentous event of 1882, and what it led to -- finding our way to best pay our way in the world --  are mapped out in that long-section on down there on the right.

So at least, that's my aim with this chart, which is still just a working model. As are those essential events, which I'm still clarifying in my own mind, those being (in reverse order):
7. The election of the Fourth Labour Government who, in a few short, volcanic and exciting years overturned nearly everything, often (but not always) for the better -- and who for the most part made the politico-economic world we still live in today. (Anchor Date: 1984)
6. The election of the First Labour Government who, in several longer and even more tortured years set in train so many of the things that the Fourth Labour found it had to overurn -- and so many more of the things that it should have. (Anchor Date: 1935)
5.  New Zealand soldiers up there on Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli, on that day in August 1915 - where it's said those soldiers went up there as sons of Empire, and (those few who did return) came down as New Zealanders. (Anchor Date: 1915)
4. The First Frozen Meat Shipment from New Zealand, arriving and being sold profitably in London -- at which point was discovered New Zealand's comparative advantage: selling processed grass to the world. (Anchor Date: 1882)
 3. The Occupation of Rangiaowhia. After two decades of peace and small-ish government, big government found no better way to quell a rebellion it had helped incite by occupying and sacking what had been, a few years before, one of the small emerging miracles of those years. Repercusssions quite literally persist to this day. (Anchor Date: 1863) 
2. The Arrival in Wellington of the Tory and Cuba, the first ships of the Wakefield settlements set in train almost everything thereafter. (Anchor date: 1839)
1. The Coming of the Canoes: Over a period of around a hundred-or-so years, a number of canoes arrived from Polynesia, whose inhabitants slowly made these islands their home...

One of the tests for the importance of each date is that you can easily write after each description words like "... after which, this place was never the same again." Try it, you'll see.

Essentialised like this, several things pop out immediately about our history, on which you may care to comment.

  • three of the seven essential events involve boats
  • two of the seven involve Labour Governments (and none National, or Liberal)
  • two out seven involve military events
  • three out of seven are primarily political
  • three are primarily entrepreneurial
  • there are no natural disasters (although the Napier & Christchurch earthquakes do both make the chart); and
  • only one takes place overseas.

I'm very happy to debate those dates or my interpretation, and to talk about all the lesser details -- why, for example, the words "Indian Mutiny" appear just above Anchor Date Number 3 -- or who Whately and Senior are, and why I think they matter -- or why it's necessary to note, on two timelines, that the median fertility rate of the cohort of women measured at that point fell under the number 3.0 -- what Neotribal Colonialism is made up of, and what a Hampered Market actually is.

Just ask.

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