On 25 April Australians and New Zealanders celebrate ANZAC Day. They remembertheir armed forces, and particularly the day on which the combined Australian and New Zealand force entered combat for the first time at Gallipoli in 1915. A few wonder why men from the Western Pacific should have been sacrificed to what one New Zealand columnist recently called "a dynastic dispute" over who would run Europe, hence clearly of no inherent significance to New Zealand. This history matters to us now because the issue is really one that concerns the nature of a sea-based commonwealth, such as the one we currently head.
The short answer to the columnist's question is that New Zealand enjoyed the freedom and prosperity it did because it was part of a successful global commonwealth held together by the sea. If the dynastic dispute in Europe had gone Germany's way, even distant New Zealand would have felt the resulting chill. That might have meant domination by the victorious Germans or even the dissolution of the defensive ties that kept New Zealand out of a developing Japanese sphere of control in the Far East. In either case, life in New Zealand would have changed dramatically.