Eugenics in New Zealand: the story of a really bad idea

by William Ray, Radio New Zealand, 14 November 2016

Mr Ray presents a new programme for Radio New Zealand that looks at “The shady, controversial and sometimes downright villainous characters of New Zealand history.”

In this episode he investigates the ‘intellectual contagion’ of a really bad idea.

Did you know that after the First World War New Zealand established an official eugenics board? We tend to think of eugenics as being something the Nazis invented but really it was embraced all around the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

It was particularly popular among the intellectual classes. Some of our most progressive institutions, the National Council of Women, Federated Farmers and the Plunkett Society all either promoted some form of eugenics or had members who did.

In this episode of Black Sheep historian and disability researcher Hilary Stace traces the history of New Zealand’s eugenicists.

Click here to listen or download the episode.

Click here to read an article by Tony Taylor from the New Zealand Journal of History (2005), ‘Thomas Hunter and the Campaign Against Eugenics’, which provides more detail about the passage of New Zealand’s 1928 eugenics law.