Title: The New Zealand Land Values League and Related Material, 1896-1992
Predominant Dates: 1909-1956
Arrangement: Arranged in six series: 1) Documents related to Hon. George M. Fowlds; 2) Documents related to George M. Fowlds [Jr.]; 3) Documents related to P.J. O’Regan; 4) Documents related to Rolland O’Regan; 5) Documents related to the League and Other Officers; and, 6) Material related to Land Value Taxation in New Zealand.
On their way to Australia, Henry George and his wife Annie visited Auckland, New Zealand on March 1, 1890. The first stop on their short visit was to the house of the man largely responsible for the popularity of Henry George’s ideas in the region, Sir George Grey. According to reports of the visit, the two men spoke for nearly two hours.
Though this was their first meeting, the two had exchanged letters for more than a decade, beginning in early 1880 when George sent Sir Grey an author’s edition of Progress and Poverty. At that time, Sir Grey was the Premier of New Zealand and an advocate of land value taxation. The book was a welcomed gift. On January 27, 1880, Sir Grey wrote to George:
I have already read a large part of the book. I regard it as one of the ablest works on the great questions of the time, which has come under my notice. It will be of great use to me…It has cheered me much to find that there is so able a man working in California, upon subjects on which I believe the whole future of mankind now mainly hangs.
Following their visit, Sir Gray drove George and his wife to a reception organized for the American visitors by the New Zealand Anti-Poverty Society. Along with the Knights of Labour and the Progressive League of Auckland, the Society presented George with a formal welcome address that read, in part:
We desire to express our sincere gratification that you have been enabled to visit these Australasian colonies, feeling assured that the personal promulgation of your views in our several centres of population will materially hasten the achievement of a social and political reform which is based upon principles of common sense and natural justice. We trust and believe that the result of your mission will be to powerfully aid in dissipating the cloud of prejudice through which many, even in these new lands, view the existing land tenure, and the fiscal policy with which it is connected—a prejudice born of ignorance, and the false impression concerning the aims and objects of the single-tax party, assiduously fostered in the public mind by the influence of a self-interested section of society.
Among the signatories to the address included R.A. Hould and Arthur Withy. From 1898 to 1919, Hould edited The Liberator, a monthly periodical established by George M. Fowlds. The periodical also functioned as the organ of the New Zealand Single Tax Party. Withy, a member of the Anti-Poverty Society, co-edited The Liberator with Hould and lectured on the single tax until his death in 1927. He also was a Vice-President of the New Zealand Land Values League.
The New Zealand Land Values League
Formerly the National Single Tax League of New Zealand, the New Zealand Land Values League was established sometime in the 1890s. George M. Fowlds, a Member of Parliament from 1902-1911, served as President and later, succeeded Hould as editor of The Liberator. Fowlds’s son, G.M. Fowlds [Jr.] filled the role of Secretary.
Also active in the League was P.J. O’Regan, who served in the New Zealand Parliament from 1893 to 1899, when he retired to work in the field of law. O’Regan also participated in the Knights of Labor and the Irish Self-Determination League of New Zealand. In 1912, O’Regan described the aim of the Land Values League for The Single Tax Review, writing:
Our aim as a League is to secure the fullest possible development of this country’s resources. That is to say, we desire the fullest and best use of the land, whether in town or country, and consequently the fullest employment of Labor and the fullest promotion of the well-being of the people. This aspiration can never be realized under a land system which falls short of securing to everyone the enjoyment of his right to the use of the earth. It will be admitted on all sides that no civilized community can exist without taxation, but we contend that all taxes which hamper industry are inequitable and that they should be abolished.
Towards this end, O’Regan went on to explain, the League supported the elimination of the mortgage tax and the graduated land tax, and increasing the exemption on the value of unimproved land from 500 to 1,000 pounds. The League incorporated in 1924. Fowlds [Sr.] remained as President and O’Regan became Vice-President. For reasons unknown, the League disbanded in 1932.
In 1943, Rolland O’Regan, a surgeon and the son of P.J. O’Regan helped revive the League, which was re-branded as the New Zealand League for the Taxation of Land Values. In 1950, the League invited Betty Noble to run classes on the ideas of Henry George. Over the next decade, the League held monthly meetings, sponsored lectures, and issued literature promoting the taxation of land values, including the full value of unimproved land.
In 1964, the League changed its name to the New Zealand Unimproved Land Value Rating Association and was permanently dissolved in 1984.
“Taxation Reform. Land values League. A Corporate Body.” The Evening Post (April 19, 1924)
Series One: Documents related to Hon. George M. Fowlds
Series Two: Documents related to George M. Fowlds [Jr.]
Series Three: Documents related to P.J. O’Regan
P.J. O’Regan, “The Progress of the Henry George Movement in New Zealand: Local Land Value Taxation in Practice.” Address at the Fourth International Conference to Promote Land Value Taxation and Free Trade. (Edinburgh: 1929)
Series Four: Documents related to Rolland O’Regan
Series Five: Documents Related to the League and Other Officers
Series Six: Material Related to Land Value Taxation in New Zealand