Labour History

The "Maoriland Worker" and Blasphemy in New Zealand

Labour History (2006), 91, (1), 113–129.

Abstract

The 12 October 1921 issue of the New Zealand labour newspaper the Maoriland Worker included two poems by the noted British war poet Siegfried Sassoon. Three lines of ‘Stand-to: Good Friday Morning’ caught the authorities’ attention. Consequently, on the advice of the Attorney General, a charge of blasphemous libel was laid against the paper’s publisher John Glover. Glover was subsequently tried in the Supreme Court in 1922 in what remains New Zealand’s only trial for ‘blasphemy’. This article explores the context, course and implications of the trial. It contends that the proceedings should be viewed in the light of post-war efforts to protect social order and suppress dissent. In essence, the charge was a pragmatic alternative to that of sedition. The incident provides a window on the intersection between religion, politics, and the labour movement, and highlights aspects of religion’s role in New Zealand society during these years.

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Details

Author details

Troughton, Geoffrey

Table of Contents

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