For Wallerstein, the theory of the „new world system“ is how to explain why some countries in this world are poor, developing countries that are depended whilst others are wealthy and have a booming economy. According to the theory, the world can be divided in three types of countries. The core or the independent countries, the semi-periphery and the periphery. While countries situated in the core are independent, powerful and control others, countries in the semi-periphery are tributary but still holding control about others. The underdog is the periphery, countries that produce raw materials which they have to sell to the semi-periphery and the periphery for a poor price. While this exploitation is going on, the core gets wealthier and the periphery depletes their resources and exploits the nature around itself. According to this theory, the wealth of several countries depends in most instances on the products they assemble. This essay will discuss if the theory is applicable for the New Zealand from the late 18th to the early 19th century. By examining the different aspects of Wallerstein’s theory and comparing them to the happenings in New Zealand in the even mentioned period it will be examined, if the new world theory is applicable for this country.
In the late 18th century, New Zealand was, according to Wallerstein’s theory, situated somewhere in beyond, outside of the world market, in an area outside the world system (Roche 1999). The arrival of Cook and his crew, bringing among other things the native diet transforming potato and more British people coming to New Zealand in the end of the 18th century can be set as the beginning of a turnaround and a pre-step into the world system. As a marker may been set the point in time when ‘itinerant settlers, whalers and later flax and timber traders’ (Roche 1999: 216) started bargains with the natives and so consequently started to interfere and influence. The event in 1793, when the Maori Tuki Tahua and Ngahuruhuru were unwillingly brought to Norfolk Islands to teach people how to process local Flax (Stokes 2002) may been mentioned as a notable key point, because this shows how the British wanted to broaden the flax trade. Sticking to Wallertstein’s theory, the natural resources of the Maori were exploited from the beginning of the bargains with the British. First transformation of the landscape and nature occurs with whalers, plundering the sea, sawyers destroying forests to use the timber and the European desire for seals, flax and fresh food ( Mc Aloon 2002). Not absolutely compatible with the theory may be that the two Maori who were taken to the Norfolk Islands were brought back. Not sticking to the theory is the fact, that they received gifts, even if they could not tell the British how to process local Flax (Stokes 2002). Treating those natives humanitarian may not suit with the exploitative character of countries of the core as Wallerstein claims. Besides that this concurs to the theory because those gifts had an impact on the environment and the people because the gifts concerned livestock and crops (Stokes 2002), what sticks with the theory. Besides that, Stoke argues that ‘there was little doubt that Maori participated actively in all aspects of the timber and flax trade’ (2002: 44). To add a comment of the Sydney Gazette from 1929 that Maori were known as clever traders (Stokes 2002), we may suggest that not only foreigners but also Maori benefited in some way from the timber and flax trade. Therefore it could be argued that the trading relationship was not entirely exploitative. The lowdown that the arrival of the British had an effect on Maori economy by reasons of British aim to extend and therefore by capitalism proves the New World Theory.