Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

"Poverty and Progress in New Zealand": thoughts on WB Sutch’s work in historical and intellectual context


4.10pm 24 April 2024

In collaboration with the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies this talk is part of the seminar series Re-Reading Works on Poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand which takes a fresh look at some major Aotearoa cultural works on poverty. Across six weeks historians, curators, researchers, writers, and performers ‘re-read’ books, plays, novels, songs, and academic analyses from across the 20th century shedding light on the historic trajectories of poverty in our country. In looking back this series invites an evaluation of our contemporary situation, providing context for current issues such as inequality, our low wage economy, beneficiary shaming, gendered poverty and the long-lasting effects of colonisation.

In 1941 the economist, public servant and intellectual W B Sutch published Poverty and Progress in New Zealand and in 1969 Poverty and Progress in New Zealand: a re-assessment. In this talk, historian Malcolm McKinnon will examine and compare the conceptions of and remedies for poverty in these works and also touch on Keynes’ 1930 essay Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren

Malcolm McKinnon is an historian and adjunct research associate in the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. He is the author, among other works, of Treasury: a history of the New Zealand Treasury (Auckland University Press 2003) and The broken decade: prosperity, depression and recovery in New Zealand 1928-39 (Otago University Press 2016).


This event will also be a live streamed webinar

Photograph of William Ball Sutch, Secretary of Department of Industries and Commerce, at his desk. Source: Wikimedia Commons.