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The New Zealandmarker Army (Maori: Ngāti Tumatauenga, "Tribe of the God of war"), is the land component of the New Zealand Defence Force and comprises around 4,500 Regular Force personnel, 2,000 Territorial Force personnel and 500 civilians. Formerly the New Zealand Military Forces, the current name was adopted around 1946. The New Zealand Army traces its history from settler militia raised in 1845.

New Zealand soldiers served with distinction in the major conflicts in the 20th Century, including South Africa 1899–1902, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, Borneo Confrontation and the Vietnam War. Since the 1970s, deployments have tended to be assistance to multilateral peacekeeping efforts. Considering the small size of the force, operational commitments have remained high since the start of the East Timor deployment in 1999. New Zealand personnel served in the First Gulf War, Iraq and are currently serving in East Timormarker, Afghanistanmarker and several UN and other peacekeeping missions.


The New Zealand Army is commanded by the Chief of Army (Chief of the General Staff until 2003), who is a Major General or 2-star appointment. The current Chief of Army is Major General Rhys Jones, who was a former Commander Joint Forces New Zealand (COMJFNZ) . The Chief of Army has responsibility for raising, training and sustaining those forces necessary to meet agreed Government outputs. For operations, the Army's combat units fall under the command of the Land Component Commander, who is on the staff of the COMJFNZ at HQ Joint Forces New Zealand at Trentham in Upper Hutt. Forces under the Land Component Commander include 2 Land Force Group and 3 Land Force Group and 1 NZ SAS Group.
Structure of the New Zealand Army

Tactical air transport for the army is provided by No. 3 Squadron of the RNZAF.

In the event of full mobilisation and deployment, the three infantry battalions plus the other necessary combat elements would form a brigade group, which exists on paper as 7 Brigade. HQ 2 Land Force Group would, if needed, form HQ 7 Brigade.

Land Training and Doctrine Group
  • Land Operations Training Centre Waiouru encompasses the main army trade schools:

Regular Army

Territorial Force

The Territorial Force (TF) is the reserve component of the New Zealand Army and provides individual augmentees and formed bodies for operational deployments. There are Territorial units throughout New Zealand, and they have a long history. The modern Territorial Force is divided into 6 regionally-based battalion groups. Each of these is made up of smaller units of different specialities. The terms 'Regiment' and 'Battalion Group' seem to be interchangeably used, which can cause confusion. However, it can be argued that both are accurate in slightly different senses. In a tactical sense, given that the TF units are groupings of all arms, the term Battalion Group is accurate, though usually used for a much more single-arm heavy grouping, three infantry companies plus one armoured squadron, for example. NZ TF Battalion Groups are composed of a large number of small units of different types.The term 'Regiment' can be accurately applied in the British regimental systems sense, as all the subunits collectively have been given the heritage of the former NZ infantry regiments (1900-1964).

2nd Canterbury, and Nelson-Marlborough and West Coast Battalion Group
3rd Auckland and Northland Battalion Group
4th Otago and Southland Battalion Group
5th Wellington West Coast and Taranaki Battalion Group
6th Hauraki Battalion Group
7th Wellington and Hawke's Bay Battalion Group

TF regiments prepare and provide trained individuals in order to top-up and sustain operational and non-operational units to meet directed outputs. TF regiments perform the function of a training unit, preparing individuals to meet prescribed outputs. The six regiments command all Territorial Force personnel within their region except those posted to formation/command headquarters, Military Police (MP) Company, Force Intelligence Group (FIG) or 1 New Zealand Special Air Services (NZSAS) Group. At a minimum, each regiment consists of a headquarters, a recruit induction training (RIT) company, at least one rifle company, and a number of combat support/combat service support companies or platoons.

3/1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment previously existed on paper as a cadre. If needed, it would have been raised to full strength through the regimentation of the Territorial Force infantry units.Army plans now envisage a three manoeuvre unit structure of 1 RNZIR, QAMR, and 2/1 RNZIR (light), being brought up to strength by TF individual and subunit reinforcements.

The New Zealand Cadet Corps also exists as a army-affiliated youth training and development organisation, part of the New Zealand Cadet Forces.

Major equipment

Armoured Fighting Vehicles
  • 105 x NZ Light Armoured Vehicle (NZLAV)
    • 95 Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV)
    • 7 Light Obstacle Blade Vehicle (LOB)
    • 3 Recovery Vehicle (LAV-R)

Light operational vehicles
  • 352 x Pinzgauer High Mobility All-Terrain Vehicle (248 non-armoured / 60 armoured)
    • 122 / 23 command and control variants
    • 68 / 37 crew served weapon carrier variants
    • 95 general service variants
    • 15 shelter carrier variants
    • 8 ambulance variants
    • 13 special operations

Missile/rocket systems

Support vehicles

Fire support/artillery


M113 replacement

New Zealand decided in 2003 to replace its existing fleet of M113 Armored Personnel Carriers, purchased in the 1960s, with the NZLAV [95700], and the M113s were decommissioned by the end of 2004. An agreement made to sell the M113s via an Australian weapons dealer in February 2006 had to be cancelled when the US State Department refused permission for New Zealand to sell the M113s under a contract made when the vehicles were initially purchased. [95701]

The replacement of the M113s with the General Motors LAV III (NZLAV) led to a review in 2001 on the purchase decision-making by New Zealand's Auditor-General. The review found short-comings in the defence acquisition process but not the eventual vehicle selected.


The Musket Wars, Settlement and the New Zealand Wars

War had been an integral part of the life and culture of the Māori people. The Musket Wars dominated the first years of European trade and settlement. The first European settlers in the Bay of Islandsmarker formed a volunteer militia from which some New Zealand army units trace their origins. British forces and Māori fought in various New Zealand Wars starting in the north of the country in 1845, and culminating in major campaign in the Waikato in the mid 1860s, during which settler forces were used with great effect. Toward the end of the war the numbers of British troops was reduced, leaving settler units to continue the campaign.

South Africa 1899–1902

The New Zealand army sent ten contingents (including the 4th New Zealand Contingent) to the Boer War. These were mounted riflemen, and the first contingents had to pay to go, providing their own horse, equipment and weapon.

World War I

In World War I New Zealand sent an expeditionary force, the 1NZEF, of soldiers who fought with Australians as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, later to be immortalised as 'ANZACs'. A New Zealand Division was then formed which fought on the Western Front. In addition the Mounted Rifles fought in Palestine.

World War II

In World War II the 2nd Division 2 NZEF, fought in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy. Following Japan's entry into the war, 3rd Division, 2 NZEF IP (In Pacific) saw action in the Pacific, seizing a number of islands from the Japanese. New Zealanders contributed to various special forces units, such as the original Long Range Desert Group in North Africa and Z Force in the Pacific.

Crossing the line, probably showing an Equator crossing ceremony on a WWI troopship en route to Europe.

In addition to the two divisions overseas, the Army raised three others at home during 1942–1943. 1st Division was formed in the Northern Military District (with 1st and 12th Brigades), 4th in the Central Military District (with 2nd and 7th Brigades), and 5th in the south. They were disbanded in 1943 after the danger of invasion receded. The 6th New Zealand Division was also briefly formed as a deception formation by renaming the NZ camp at Maadimarker in southern Cairomarker, the New Zealanders' base area in Egypt, in 1942.


The New Zealand Army was formally formed from the New Zealand Military Forces following the Second World War. Attention focused on preparing a third Expeditionary Force potentially for service against the Soviets. Compulsory Military Training was introduced to man the force, which was initially division-sized. The division was alternatively known as '3NZEF.' It was disbanded in 1961, as succeeding governments reduced the force first to two brigades, and then a single one. This one-brigade force became in the 1980s the Integrated Expansion Force, to be formed by producing three composite battalions from the six Territorial Force infantry regiments. Many of the available resources were directed instead to maintaining the New Zealand infantry battalion in the Malaysia-Singapore area. The battalion was committed to the Far East Strategic Reserve. The battalion, designated 1st Battalion RNZIR by that time, was brought home in 1989. In 1978 a national museum for the army, the QEII Army Memorial Museummarker, was built at Waiourumarker, the army's main training base in the central North Islandmarker.

Since World War II the New Zealand army has fought in the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Indonesian confrontation, the Vietnam War, East Timormarker, and Afghanistan. New Zealand personnel have served in a large number of UN and other peacekeeping deployments, including UNTSO in the Middle East, Rhodesia, the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, Cambodia, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Angola, Bosnia, Bougainvillemarker, the Solomon Islands, and the Sudan.

Current Deployments

The New Zealand Army currently participates in three major overseas deployments:


New Zealand Army uniforms have historically followed the British pattern with the high crowned "lemon squeezer" hat as the most visible national distinction. This was adopted by the Wellington Regiment about 1911 and became general issue for all New Zealand units during the latter stages of World War I. The different branches of service were distinguished by coloured puggarees or wide bands around the base of the crown (blue and red for artillery, green for mounted rifles, khaki and red for infantry etc). The "lemon squeezer" was worn to a certain extent during World War II, although often replaced by more convenient forage caps or berets, or helmets. British-pattern Battledress was worn until the 1970s, with "Jungle Greens" being used as field wear. British DPM was adopted in 1980. Modern field wear is New Zealand DPM camouflage, which closely resembles British DPM field uniforms. On overseas service, a New Zealand flag badge and a white Kiwi on a circular black field with the words "New Zealand" are worn. The DPM uniform, with the addition of a beret or sometimes the Mounted Rifles Hat, is the usual working uniform and according the one most commonly worn.

In recent years a number of distinctive New Zealand features have appeared. The "lemon squeezer", after being in abeyance since the 1950s, was reintroduced for parade dress in 1993 where it replaced the khaki "No 2" British Army service dress cap. Officer cadets and some bands wear this headdress with a scarlet and blue full dress uniform. A wide brimmed khaki hat with green pugaree, of a pattern formerly worn by the New Zealand Mounted Rifle (cavalry) regiments, replaced the British style peaked cap as service dress headdress for all branches in 1998. The red or dark blue sashes worn by sergeants are now embroidered with a traditional Māori motif or 'mokowaewae' denoting speed and agility. On the infantry sash the mokowaewae appears in black, white and red diagonal 'steps' and on that of the New Zealand Scottish in green, black and white. Short Māori cloaks are sometimes worn by senior officers as a mark of distinction on occasions of special ceremony, though they are not part of the regulation uniform.

The British "infantry pattern" mess uniform is still worn by officers and senior NCOs for formal evening occasions. A universal pattern comprising scarlet mess jackets and blue-black trousers has replaced the various regimental and corps mess dress uniforms previously worn. The universal mess dress has also replaced the white jacket and black Barathea trousers previously worn in summer or tropical climates. The dark blue No 1 dress formerly worn by officers, before the general adoption of mess uniforms, was last worn in the early 1990s, although it was nominally retained for wear by the Chief of Army on appropriate State occasions.

Highland orders of dress (glengarry, kilt, sporrans etc) are authorised for wear by the New Zealand Scottish Squadron of the RNZAC, at the discretion of the Squadron Commander. They are also authorised for the pipes and drums of the 5th Battalion (Wellington, West Coast and Taranaki) of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.

See also: British Army Uniform


ANZAC Day is the main annual commemorative activity for New Zealand soldiers. On the 25th April each year the landings at Gallipoli are remembered, though the day has come to mean remembering the fallen from all wars in which New Zealand has been involved. While a New Zealand public holiday, it is a duty day for New Zealand military personnel, who, even if not involved in official commemorative activities are required to attend an ANZAC Day Dawn Parade in ceremonial uniform in their home location.

Remembrance Day, commemorating the end of World War I on the 11 November 1918, is marked by official activities with a military contribution normally with parades and church services on the closest Sunday. However, ANZAC Day has a much greater profile and involves a much higher proportion of military personnel.

The various regiments of the New Zealand Army mark their own Corps Days, many of which are derived from those of the corresponding British regiments. Examples are Cambrai Day on the 20 November for the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps, St Barbara's Day on the 4 December for the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery.

See also


  1. A short history of the New Zealand Army from 1840 to the 1990s, G J Clayton (ed) 1991
  3. Ministry of Defence Briefing to the Incoming Government
  4. Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, 'New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches 1911-1991,' Part One, Appendix I, p.158
  5. Major General W.G. Stevens, 'Problems of 2 NZEF,' Chapter 4, Official History of the Second World War, 1958, NZ Electronic Text Centre accessed April 2009
  6. Damien Marc Fenton, 'A False Sense of Security,' Centre for Strategic Studies:New Zealand, 1998, p.12
  7. See for example Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966, accessed August 2009
  8. Air New Zealand Almanac 1985 and New Zealand Army News, 1990s

External links

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