Paupers and Providers

Paupers and Providers

Charitable Aid in New Zealand

Paupers and Providers is currently out of print.

Despite the image of New Zealand as a nation free from poverty and want, welfare – both public and private – has always been part of the fabric of our society.

In this carefully researched, challenging work, Margaret Tennant tells the history of welfare provision in New Zealand. Debunking notions of a 'golden age' of welfare services, she examines early debates about welfare spending and targeting, the notion of community responsibility for the needy, and the distinction drawn between the 'deserving’ and 'undeserving' poor. Paupers and Providers is also a compelling and sometimes horrifying portrait of poverty in New Zealand and its effects on ordinary lives.

Table of contents


1. Welfare in Colonial New Zealand
2. Charitable aid – the legislative framework
3. Central administration
4. Local administration
5. Outdoor relief
6. 'Beggars of the Female Sex'
7. 'Gutter Children'
8. Elderly indigents and old men homes
9. Medical relief and assistance to the sick poor
10. Depression and unemployment

Appendix 1 Extracts from a letter written by an inmate of the Costley Home to a Board Official
Appendix 2 By laws – regulations to be observed by inmates of the Old Men's Home, Ashburton

Print publication:
Ebook publication: Dec 2018
Pages: 245
ISBN: 9780046140205
ISTC: A0220120000222FC
DOI: 10.7810/9780046140205


'This is undoubtedly a much-needed study, and will be essential reading for students of New Zealand's social welfare history, social history, and women's history. It fills an important gap.' Linda Bryder, The New Zealand Journal of History (PDF)