Story: Second World War

New Zealand declares war on Germany

This telegram announcing that the United Kingdom had declared war on Germany was received in New Zealand at 11.45 p.m. on the night of 3 September 1939. At that point New Zealand followed suit, and backdated its declaration to the same moment when the United Kingdom had declared war (9.30 p.m. on 3 September). It has sometimes been suggested that New Zealand declared war ahead of the UK, on account of its time zone being 10 and a half hours ahead of British Summer Time – but this is not true. Two days later, 5 September, Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage formally announced New Zealand's involvement and affirmed that the country would support Britain in his famous phrase, 'Where she goes, we go; where she stands, we stand.'

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (Rt. Hon. Michael Joseph Savage broadcasts to N.Z. outbreak of war. 1939-09-05/Reference number sa-d-00409-01-s01-pm).

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Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: G 5 114 1658/39 1939

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How to cite this page:

Ian McGibbon, 'Second World War - New Zealand’s involvement', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 July 2024)

Story by Ian McGibbon, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 1 May 2016