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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.



Divergent Aims

This last was one of the points taken up by a group of returned servicemen early in the Second World War who felt that the RSA did not adequately express their views or serve their interests and who therefore formed a separate organisation, the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force Association, with headquarters in Auckland. The first annual conference in July 1945 was told, as evidence of the need for independent association, that of the 202 delegates to the Dominion Council of the NZRSA the previous month only 36 had served in the Second World War. On many matters the two bodies saw eye to eye. Both worked hard to overcome the housing shortage which handicapped resettlement in the immediate post-war years. Each made their contribution to the rehabilitation of ex-service personnel, though the strength, prestige, and experience of the RSA gave its efforts more weight. The 2 NZEF Association nevertheless gained representation on many of the boards and other official bodies which dealt with ex-service matters and did something to influence pension and land legislation. By January 1945 it possessed 15 branches, and by November 1946 the total was 35 and the membership more than 12,000. Echoing the policy of the RSA after the First World War, the 2 NZEF Association prayed in a petition to Parliament in September 1946 for action to stabilise the price level and restrict the issue of “currency and credit” to the Reserve Bank and other “properly constituted authority”. The widest divergence of views between the two associations, however, concerned compulsory military training, which came to a head in 1949. The RSA cooperated closely with the Government to win support for compulsory military training in a national referendum; but the 2 NZEF Association at first opposed peacetime conscription. New Zealand should rely on her navy and air force and maintain only a tiny regular army. This was an original and startling suggestion; but the association soon retracted it and supported compulsory military training. From then onwards the influence of the 2 NZEF Association, never very strong in the Wellington area, diminished. Its headquarters moved to Invercargill and for some years its monthly newspaper, Kiwi, which had started in Auckland in September 1944 with a circulation of 10,000 copies, was published in Dunedin. The last issue was that of September-October 1957. A few branches still carry on social activities, but the association no longer has a voice at a national level in ex-service affairs.

The NZRSA and its affiliated but autonomous branch associations carry on social and welfare work, conducting Poppy Day and Rose Day appeals and acting as intermediaries between needy ex-servicemen or their dependants and the various governmental or other public bodies concerned. And at the annual Dominion council the delegates express their views on matters, such as compulsory military training and defence policy, and the Dominion Executive Council acts accordingly. An important move in recent years was to form the World Veterans Federation, which has members in the Communist bloc. One annual bone of contention between the RSA and other sections of the community relates to the way Anzac Day is observed. By law it is observed in all respects as a Sunday and the RSA wants to keep it so; but many people, especially younger ones to whom war is not even a memory, resent conviviality in RSA clubrooms on a day when hotels are not allowed to open and would like a less solemn official observance, at least in the afternoons.