New Zealand’s international initiation: Sir James Allen at the League of Nations 1920–1926


New Zealand was a founding member of the League of Nations in 1919 but there was no enthusiasm for the new organisation in Wellington. The Massey government only saw unwelcome obligations resulting from its membership, and the League’s great quest for a comprehensive agreement on security and arbitration was regarded as a threat to the British Empire by its most loyal dominion. Obliged to send a representative to Geneva, the New Zealand government expected Sir James Allen to do little more than support Britain. With insufficient resources and few instructions, James Allen did that and more from 1920 to 1926. His role as New Zealand’s first delegate to the League was an important signal that the country was taking tentative steps towards becoming an equal partner in the international community. Ironically, by seeking to put the League on a sound financial footing, Allen’s personal initiative gave New Zealand more of a presence at Geneva than his government had anticipated. © 2012, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Political Science