Story: Asian conflicts

Compulsory military training, 1950

This 1950 newsreel shows the first batch of recruits arriving for compulsory military training at Linton camp near Palmerston North. With the increasing tensions of the Cold War in the late 1940s, New Zealand pledged to send an infantry division to support the Western allies in the Middle East in the event of war. Prime Minister Peter Fraser believed that New Zealand could only fulfil this undertaking by training sufficient territorial-force citizen soldiers in peacetime. This required the reintroduction of compulsory military training (CMT), which had been abolished in 1930.

While the Labour government and the National opposition both supported CMT, many of those on the left of the Labour Party opposed it. In a referendum on CMT in August 1949, over 700,000 people voted – 77% of them in favour. CMT began in May 1950, by which time the National Party was in power. CMT was abolished in 1959. In 1962 a system of national military service was introduced, under which 2,000 men annually were balloted for military training. They were not liable for overseas service; New Zealand sent only volunteers to Vietnam. On being elected to government in 1972, the Labour Party immediately carried out its promise to abolish national military service.

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Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: Weekly Review 448. National Film Unit, 1950

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How to cite this page:

Ian McGibbon, 'Asian conflicts - Cold War', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 June 2024)

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