While most literature tends to focus on the experiences of adults in home-front societies, this paper investigates 1910s New Zealand from a child-centered perspective. It asks how children up to twenty years of age responded to two global events that affected their antipodal nation in the latter half of the decade—the First World War and the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic. Drawing on children’s thoughts, feelings, and memories as captured in oral histories and contemporaneous letters, this article argues that New Zealand youth interacted with these crises in a sophisticated manner. Youth actively engaged with the conflict and the pandemic to the extent that the events impacted children’s worlds. Yet, while children’s behavior often diverged from adult expectations, their experiences varied extensively. Emotional and geographical proximity and age all played a significant role in mediating children’s exposure and reactions to these international crises between 1914 and 1918.


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pp. 19-41
Launched on MUSE
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