John E. Martin

Honouring the Contract


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Honouring the Contract provides a novel perspective on the distinctive foundations of New Zealand’'s welfare state. It raises issues concerning modern-day concepts of citizenship as the welfare state comes under challenge. Government policy is linked to an evolving ‘social contract’ between wage earners and the state. Honouring this contract was the key driving force underlying policy. With the contract'’s genesis in the migration of wage earners from Britain in the 1840s, New Zealand became an experimental laboratory, first promoting settlement of the land, then safeguarding the economic position of the male breadwinner, and with the emergence of the welfare state in the early twentieth century, protecting the standard of living of families. All such policies were impelled by the need for a good standard of living in a ‘new world’ society dependent on continued migration for its vitality.

Illustrated with many contemporary cartoons not seen before, Honouring the Contract provides vital background to some of the pressing issues in contemporary New Zealand politics.

Dr. John E. Martin has written extensively on labour and political history and on the history of state policy. He is employed as Parliamentary Historian in the Parliamentary Service. His most recent books are The House: New Zealand’'s House of Representatives, 1854–2004 (2004) and Parliament’'s Library (2008). Previously he worked in the Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs.

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