I found a treasure trove of historical data, fascinating anecdotes, and interesting personalities while digging through various archives to prepare for our two big anniversaries this year — the 70th anniversary of the establishment of formal bilateral diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the United States, and the 70th anniversary of the arrival of American military forces to help defend Aotearoa and the South Pacific from invasion during World War II.
At the center of both of those transformative events was the then-Honorable Walter Nash, sent to Washington in 1942 as New Zealand’s first diplomatic envoy to the United States (and indeed New Zealand’s first ambassador to anywhere). Ambassador Nash skillfully built and wielded significant influence in Washington and was a good friend and confidant of President Franklin Roosevelt. From what I’ve read, Ambassador and Mrs Nash were also larger-than-life personalities who charmed Washington social and media circles.
One of my favorite pieces of historical color, uncovered by my archive-crawl colleague Michele, is a chatty feature story about Mrs Nash from the June 5, 1942 edition of The Christian Science Monitor which reveals quite a bit about the times in which it was written. I smile each time I read the article. If you have difficulty with the reprint below, you can click here for a version with larger type.
Thank you to the Monitor and to ProQuest Historical Newspapers for granting permission to reprint the article here. I’ll post additional historical notes and anecdotes in the coming weeks as we approach our formal June commemorations of the anniversaries.
If you happen to have photos, film, artifacts, or family stories related to the Nashes’ time in Washington or the arrival of US Marines and soldiers in New Zealand, please let me know. I would enjoy sharing the stories and images here.