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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I


page v


The decision to publish this series of documents and communications between the New Zealand Government and the Governments of the United Kingdom and Australia, and between the New Zealand Government and the General Officer Commanding the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force and official representatives abroad, was taken by the New Zealand Government shortly after my appointment as Editor-in-Chief of the New Zealand War Histories in 1946. It was necessary to do so in order to record fully New Zealand's part in the Second World War, with special emphasis on the problems which confronted the New Zealand Government and War Cabinet, the information which was before them, their views, and the decisions taken. Some delay has occurred in publication owing to the necessity of securing the consent of overseas Governments.

The original documents are held in the Prime Minister's Department and in the Service Departments. All the despatches received and sent during the war years are not being published, but all important messages relevant to the different topics are included; those omitted are of a trivial or personal nature. There has been no censorship. Most despatches in the first two volumes deal with the 2nd NZEF in the Middle East; the third volume concerns the Pacific theatre.

An arbitrary numbering has been adopted for the convenience of readers, but the despatches are otherwise in their original form and order except where they have been paraphrased to comply with security requirements.

A problem was posed in the arrangement of the documents: whether they should be (a) in chronological order, or (b) according to subject. The former method would present the documents strictly according to date and without regard to their contents and subject-matter. Such a course would allow the reader to see the business of the New Zealand page vi Government and War Cabinet as it appeared at the time with its daily ramifications. But the disadvantages of the chronological method are too obvious to need mention, and this arrangement would have been most irksome to a reader attempting to follow the history of any one problem.

After full consideration a compromise of the two systems was decided on. The material in this series is arranged under subject headings, in chronological order; footnotes have been added and an index has also been provided.

The point at which to commence the first volume also received attention and it was decided to start with the Declarations of War. Declarations against Japan and Thailand will appear in a later volume.

New Zealand's pre-war foreign policy will be dealt with in a separate volume of the Official History. In later volumes there will be sections dealing more fully with Naval and Air Force problems.

H. K. Kippenberger

New Zealand War Histories