17 Feb 2016

WWII diary casts shadow on NZ's 'fair-go' reputation

From Nine To Noon, 11:25 am on 17 February 2016
The Prison Diary of AC Barrington

The Prison Diary of AC Barrington Photo: supplied

What happened to pacifists in World War II New Zealand? Why was New Zealand so intolerant of dissent?

In 1941, conscientous objector Archie Barrington sat in his solitary cell at Wellington’s Mount Crawford Prison and began to write an illicit diary scrawled in the margins of books. Various volumes were eventually smuggled out by the prison butcher, but then forgotten about. Many years later, the diary was discovered by Archie’s son John and painstakingly reconsutrcted.

The Prison Diary of A.C. Barrington: Dissent and conformity in wartime New Zealand draws on the rare first-hand account of prison life by Barrington, shedding new light on an era that was dominated by a rigid insistence on conformity

John Pratt from the Institute of Criminology at Victoria University edited the diary. He tells Kathryn Ryan that this intolerance can still be seen today in the current penal saturation: