Story: Peacekeeping

New Zealand has been involved in peacekeeping since the 1950s. The country has sent soldiers and police overseas to keep the peace through patrolling troubled areas, clearing mines, building houses, destroying weapons, protecting civilians and training other troops, among other things.

Story by David Capie
Main image: Farewelling New Zealand peacekeeping troops going to former Yugoslavia

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Peacekeeping is when countries send military or police personnel to places that have had a war or conflict to try to keep the peace. Peacekeeping missions are usually led by the United Nations or other international organisations.

New Zealand’s involvement in peacekeeping

New Zealand has been involved in peacekeeping since the 1950s. It is in New Zealand’s interests to help keep other countries stable, and being involved in peacekeeping is also good for its relations with its allies.

Peacekeeping during the Cold War, 1950s to 1980s

From the 1950s to the 1980s – a period called the ‘Cold War’ – New Zealand sent troops to:

  • Kashmir, a region which India and Pakistan were fighting over
  • in and around the new state of Israel
  • the Sinai region, between Israel and Egypt.

Peacekeeping in the 1990s

After the Cold War, most conflicts were within countries (civil wars) rather than between countries. In the 1990s New Zealand was involved in more than 20 operations to support peace, including:

  • clearing mines in Afghanistan
  • overseeing elections in Cambodia
  • providing aid and assistance in the former Yugoslavia during a civil war.

Peacekeeping in the Pacific

New Zealand has also been involved in peacekeeping closer to home. Soldiers have been sent to:

  • the island of Bougainville, where there was fighting between the Papua New Guinean government and groups that wanted to become independent
  • East Timor, which voted to become independent from Indonesia in 1999, which led to conflict between pro- and anti-Indonesian forces
  • the Solomon Islands, which has had internal violence
  • Tonga, after riots in 2006.
How to cite this page:

David Capie, 'Peacekeeping', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 September 2022)

Story by David Capie, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 10 Jun 2015