This article forms part of a wider study of the attempts by various agencies, organisations and individuals to promote the professionalisation of adult education in Aotearoa New Zealand. The concepts of 'profession' and 'professionalisation' are not innocent ones. In Larson's words, the notion of 'profession' is \" ... one of many 'natural concepts', fraught with ideology, that social science abstracts from everyday life\" (Larson, 1979: xi). It is a concept that has been used to shape the material and social conditions of vast numbers of people throughout the twentieth century. This article examines the history of adult education in Aotearoa New Zealand between the 1920s and mid-1960s in order to identify those trends and events that had a bearing on the professionalisation of adult education.