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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 15. August 4, 1971

U.S.N. Aerial Survey of New Zealand Coast

U.S.N. Aerial Survey of New Zealand Coast

On 10/11/59 the Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Skinner, made the following announcement:

'A detachment of the U.S. Navy has arrived in New Zealand to join with the R.N.Z.A.F. in a project to produce aerial photographs of the New Zealand coastline for defence purposes. The detachment, which has brought with it its own specially equipped photographic aircraft and includes photographic experiments, will be stationed at Ohakea. The R.N.Z.A.F. will contribute additional aircraft while R.N.Z.A.F. photographers will work with the U.S. Navy on the project .... It is expected that the survey will take from 2½ to 4 months to complete depending on weather conditions. "The R.N.Z.A.F. will derive considerable benefit by way of training .... It is a good example of practical peacetime cooperation between New Zealand and her major ANZUS ally in meeting the long term defence needs of this country and the Pacific area."

No further explanation was made of why the U.S.N, needed air photos of the N.Z. coastline, nor why Lands and Survey Department photographs were not good enough. The project was the subject of a N.Z.U.S. agreement which stated that "such a survey is acceptable to the N.Z. Government on the following understandings. It is understood by the N.Z. Government that copies of the photographs taken by this detachment and of the descriptive material prepared from the photographs and other relevant data will be made freely available to appropriate authorities .. "Other arrangements were identical to the agreement for U.S.N. use of the Christchurch Airport base. There is no time limit on the agreement.

For at least a fortnight, one of the aircraft was based at Christchurch Airport. It was a North American Savage, an aircraft specially built for photographic work. The probable destination of the air photograph is the Pacific Science Information center in Hawaii, which is operated under contract to the U.S.N. by Bishop Museum and which amongst other things, maintains a file of air photographs for the Navy which is stated to include photographs of every island in the Pacific.