Official occasions and vernacular voices
New Zealand’s British Empire and Commonwealth Games, 1950–90
in New Zealand’s empire
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Between 1950 and 1990 New Zealand hosted the British Empire/Commonwealth Games on three occasions, both embracing and struggling with these opportunities to publicly communicate its attachment to an imperial past and present, at a time when the British Empire itself was moving towards dissolution. Local, regional, ethnic, and cultural tensions consistently undermined organisers’ attempts to produce a stable expression of New Zealand identity. Drawing upon archival and periodical evidence, this chapter employs a transnational and comparative approach that integrates evidence from the Games hosted in Canada and Australia to document the complex ways in which sport, national identity and the awkward legacies of imperialism combined to produce highly contested pronouncements about New Zealand’s past and present.

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