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

16 — The Governor-General of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

The Governor-General of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

11 June 1940

In consequence of the official intimation that the King of Italy will consider himself at war with Great Britain and France as from midnight on 10 June, the existence of a state of war with Italy has been proclaimed here as from the equivalent time, namely 10.30 a.m. New Zealand standard time. His Majesty's Government in New Zealand would be-grateful if such steps as are necessary may be taken to indicate to the Italian Government that His Majesty's Government page 12 in New Zealand associate themselves in this matter with His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and with the Government of France.1

This cynical and cold-blooded attack by Italy at a moment plainly chosen in the belief that it will afford the maximum embarrassment to the Allied arms and in the hope, which we know will be dispelled, that it will result in an easy triumph and prompt gains for Italy, will call forth here, as elsewhere throughout the Commonwealth and in those countries that are banded together to resist aggression, the strongest feelings of indignation. At this moment His Majesty's Government in New Zealand wish to renew in the fullest measure the assurance of their firm determination, and that of the people of this Dominion, to assist by every means within their power until the menace of ruthless and unprincipled aggression has been finally and completely destroyed.2

1 At the request of the United Kingdom Government, the New Zealand declaration was transmitted to the Italian Government by the United States Ambassador in Rome. Under the date of 28 Jan 1946, the United States Department of State was informed by the American Ambassador in Rome that the records regarding New Zealand's declaration of war on Italy were burned on 8 Dec 1941 and that no copies exist. On 17 Jan 1946 the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the American Embassy at Rome that no trace of the pertinent correspondence could be found in the remains of the ministry's archives.

2 In a New Zealand Gazette Extraordinary published on 5 Jan 1948, termination of the state of war which had existed in New Zealand with Italy, Roumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland was announced, such termination synchronising with the respective dates of deposit by New Zealand of the instruments of ratification of the treaties of peace with each of those countries. Since the instrument of ratification of the treaty of peace with Italy was deposited on 24 Dec 1947, the state of war which had existed in New Zealand with Italy was deemed to have terminated on that date.