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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 Outbreak of War

New Zealand, as an independent Dominion within the British Empire, formed a Navy of her own in 1921 and an Air Force (under Army control) in 1923. Both grew slowly, while the Army, after compulsory training ceased in 1930, actually diminished in size. Her commitments, however, had increased and now included the defence of Fiji. She was nevertheless quick off the mark when war threatened in 1939 and in fact “beat the gun” by dispatching the cruiser Achilles for America on 29 August and her sister ship the Leander next day with a platoon of infantry to guard the cable station at tiny Fanning Island (near the Equator, halfway across the Pacific). On 3 September the Government did not hesitate to follow the United Kingdom in declaring war on Germany.


Walter Edward Murphy, B.A., Lecturer, School of Political Science and Public Administration, Victoria University of Wellington.

Last updated 23-Apr-09

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