An 1883 Australasian intercolonial convention held in Sydney was attended by New Zealand Premier Harry Atkinson (second row, third from right) and Attorney General Frederick Whitaker (second row, third from left), premiers of the six Australian colonies, and the governor of Fiji, who was also acting as high commissioner of the Western Pacific. Along with the federation of the Australian colonies, the annexation of Pacific Islands was discussed. Those attending resolved that the ‘further acquisition of dominion in the Pacific, south of the Equator, by any Foreign Power, would be highly detrimental to the safety and well-being of the British possessions in Australasia and injurious to the interests of the Empire’.
Although an Australasian council was proposed, New Zealand was more interested in acting independently of the Australian colonies (which would dominate any Australasian group formed). Fiji, Samoa and Tonga were seen as important participants in New Zealand’s ideal grouping, which it would lead. In addition to satisfying Pacific trade and strategic interests, a Pacific federation would give New Zealand a stronger voice in Britain’s Pacific policy.
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