Story: Asian conflicts

Holyoake's reluctant commitment, 1964

Holyoake's reluctant commitment, 1964

In this cartoon from April 1964, Uncle Sam pushes prime ministers Robert Menzies of Australia and Keith Holyoake of New Zealand to make stronger contributions to the Vietnam War. While officially supporting the American efforts, Holyoake was reluctant to commit New Zealand forces. New Zealand had recognised the South Vietnamese regime, but initially sent only a surgical team and later a party of non-combatant army engineers. Increased pressure from the US, along with the Australian commitment to send troops, led Holyoake to send combat troops to Vietnam in 1965. New Zealand forces initially consisted of an artillery battery. Later on infantry companies, a Special Air Service (SAS) troop, a joint services medical team and a number of air force personnel were also committed. In contrast to the Australians, Holyoake was never prepared to commit a large force, or to send conscripts to Vietnam.

Courtesy of New Zealand Herald

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: E-549-q-13-204
Cartoon by Gordon Edward George Minhinnick

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Ian McGibbon, 'Asian conflicts - Vietnam War', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 3 June 2020)

Story by Ian McGibbon, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 27 Feb 2016