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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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The Army Today

The New Zealand Army is raised, maintained, and organised under the authority of the New Zealand Army Act 1950, and consists of the Regular Force, the Territorial Force, the Army Reserve, the Cadet Corps, and other military forces raised in time of war or other like emergency.

The Army comprises the following corps:

  • Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery.

  • Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps.

  • Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers.

  • Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals.

  • Royal New Zealand Infantry Corps.

  • New Zealand Special Air Service.

  • New Zealand Army Air Corps.

  • Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps.

  • Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps.

  • Royal New Zealand Ordnance Corps.

  • Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

  • Royal New Zealand Dental Corps.

  • Royal New Zealand Chaplains Department.

  • New Zealand Army Pay Corps.

  • New Zealand Army Legal Service.

  • Royal New Zealand Provost Corps

  • New Zealand Army Education Corps.

  • Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps.

  • New Zealand Women's Royal Army Corps.

  • New Zealand Cadet Corps.

In general, these corps derive from similar groups within the British Army and the old permanent establishment. Since 1947 many corps have been designated “Royal”.

Command and Organisation

The Army Board consists of the Minister of Defence (President); the Chief of the General Staff (First Military Member); the Adjutant-General (Second Military Member); the Quartermaster-General (Third Military Member); the Army Secretary; and a Territorial Officer (Associate Member). The Board is charged with the administration and the command of the Army. In 1964 the New Zealand Army was reorganised as: (a) A contribution to the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve which is all Regular Force, a battalion of which is in Malaya, (b) A Combat Brigade Group, with its own light aviation unit, and a Logistic Support Force, totalling approximately 9,000 men, comprising integrated Regular Force and Territorial units. (c) A combat reserve brigade group of approximately 3,000 Territorial personnel. These elements constitute the Field Force. An all-Regular Force Static Support Force of approximately 2,950 is provided to command, administer, train, and equip the Army as a whole, including the New Zealand Cadet Corps. This reorganisation is being achieved within the present limit of 6,250 Regular and 10,000 Territorial Force soldiers, a total of 16,250 men. Many Regular Force and Territorial Force units have merged. As a result of the reorganisation, it was necessary to revise the traditional infantry regimental system and the 10 regiments have been combined into one regiment of infantry, to which all seven Regular and Territorial Force battalions will belong.

New Zealand is divided into three military districts and each headquarters is responsible for the Territorial Brigade Group and Regular Field Force units located in the district. These districts are: Northern Military District (1st Infantry Brigade Group) the northern half of the North Island; Central Military District (2nd Infantry Brigade Group) the southern half of the North Island; and Southern Military District (3rd Infantry Brigade Group) the whole of the South Island, including the Chatham and Stewart Islands. Each district is divided into four army areas, each with two or more sub-areas. The District (Brigade Group) Commander commands all units, both Regular and Territorial, located in his district.


Except in the case of special entries and of quartermaster officers commissioned from the ranks, all Regular officers are commissioned on graduation from the Royal Academy, Sandhurst, England; the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Australia; or from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea, Australia. Postgraduate and specialist training is given either in New Zealand or at overseas training establishments. Officers are sent overseas for training at staff colleges in England, Australia, and the United States. Candidates for the Staff College, Camberley, England, and the Australian Staff College, Queenscliffe, must pass the same entrance examinations as British Regular officers except for military law, administration, and morale, upon which candidates are examined in New Zealand. Regular soldiers are trained in New Zealand or, in special cases, at overseas establishments.

Under the National Military Service Act 1961, a selective system of national service was introduced for the Territorial Force. Those selected undergo a medical examination and, allowing for appeals and deferments, the balance (approximately 2,000 per year) are enrolled in the Army for 14 weeks' full-time training before being posted to the Territorial Force for three years' part-time service and a further three years in the Reserve, with no liability for training. Part-time service consists of 20 days' training a year, including 14 days in camp and 6 days' out-of-camp training. The 14 weeks' full-time training is carried out largely at Waiouru. Those selected have the option of serving in the Regular Force for a year, followed by three years in the General Reserve, with no further training.

The Army Schools' headquarters, Waiouru, administer a number of schools which provide courses for all ranks of the Regular Force and officers and non-commissioned officers of the Territorial Force and the New Zealand Cadet Corps. The schools include the Tactical School, School of Army Administration, School of Artillery, School of Armour, School of Signals, School of Infantry, Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps School, Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical School, Regular Force Cadet Unit, and the Regular Force Cadet School. In addition, the Regular Force Depot provides basic courses for all arms of the Regular Force, including Regular Force cadets. Other training establishments, the School of Military Engineering, the Medical Corps Depot, and the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps School are situated at other camps, but fulfil similar functions.

New Zealand Cadet Corps

There are 182 secondary schools with cadet units, each unit bearing the school's name. Service is voluntary and annual training is set at 30 hours. All units are infantry, but provision is made for such specialist activities as sea cadets, artillery troops, and air training corps. Courses for officers and noncommissioned officers are held at district training camps and units may hold annual camps or barracks.

The New Zealand Army in Malaya

In accordance with New Zealand's undertaking to make a contribution to the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya, an infantry battalion, the First Battalion the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, on a peace establishment is at present serving with the Commonwealth Brigade Group there. The period of duty for personnel is two years.

Strength of the Army

The strength of the Army on 30 September 1963 was as follows:

Officers Other Ranks
Regular Force (including force in Malaya, and women's units) 573 5,004
Total 5,577
Territorial Force (active) 698 5,477
Total 6,175

Ministry of Defence

In 1963 a Ministry of Defence was established, headed by a Secretary, to act as a coordinating defence authority to advise the Government on policy, planning, and expenditure. The Secretary is Chairman of the Defence Board, comprising the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the three Service Chiefs, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Secretary of External Affairs.

The separate entities of the three Service Departments are maintained and administered by their respective Boards.

by Richard Ainslie Barber, N.Z.L.A.CERT., Librarian, Army Department, Wellington.

  • Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives, Defence Department Annual Reports (H. 19 of each year)
  • The War Effort of New Zealand, Drew, H. T. B. (1923)
  • The New Zealand Wars and the Pioneering Period, Cowan, J. (2 vols., 1955)
  • Hone Heke's Rebellion, 1844–6, Rutherford, J. (Auckland University College Bulletin No. 34, 1947)
  • Cambridge History of the British Empire, Vol. 7, Part 2, New Zealand (1933)
  • Journal of the Royal United Services Institution, Vol. 102, Feb 1957, “The New Zealand Army”, Kippenberger, H. K., England and the Maori War, New Zealand News, Harrop, A. J. (1937)
  • Making New Zealand, Vol. 2, No. 24, Department of Internal Affairs, “Defence”, Hall, D. O. W.