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

351 — Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates (Noumea) to the Prime Minister

Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates (Noumea) to the Prime Minister

24 February 1943

At a conference with Admiral Halsey today, 24 February, the following decisions were reached:


Halsey approves of the proposed adjustments in the New Zealand Army and agrees that we should proceed accordingly at once.


He wishes the 3rd Division to be completed to the war establishment of a full division as planned as soon as this can be done.


He considers the proposed allowance of 10,000 reinforcements per annum to be excessive and regards 40 per cent of establishment to be ample, based on the experience of the United States Marines.


He and all his staff discount entirely any possibility of discrimination against Maoris and consider the despatch of a Maori battalion to the 3rd Division would be suitable and desirable.2


He is investigating the possibility of relieving New Zealand anti-aircraft troops in Fiji and anti-aircraft and coast defence troops in New Caledonia; this is being discussed further.


He agrees that the United States medical unit in Tonga may remain there indefinitely.


He agrees generally with our proposal as to liaison, and we are preparing a suitable directive.

Party all well. We are preparing to go north to our Division either tomorrow or next day. This will take party approximately three days and we will then return, spending one day at Norfolk Island en route if possible.

2 A proposal that a Maori battalion be formed to complete the 3rd Division was approved by War Cabinet on 21 April. The introduction of the furlough scheme for the 2nd Division in May 1943 necessitated the despatch to the Middle East, as reinforcements for the 28th (Maori) Battalion, of a number of men from the two Maori battalions being formed in New Zealand and the proposal to send a Maori unit to the Pacific was abandoned.