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

165 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1

24 March 1942

The following is from the Prime Minister for your Prime Minister:

With further reference to your telegrams [Nos. 160 and 161]. We have now had an opportunity of perusing Mr Curtin's message of 20 March [No. 163] and we feel it desirable to make the following additional comments:

1. There are, as I pointed out in my telegram of 19 March [No. 162], a number of aspects in connection with the Pacific proposal on which we are not yet clear. For example:


The exact functions of the two proposed Councils, and particularly the powers of the Washington Council.


The precise authority of the Supreme Commander and his relations with the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee and with the Governments concerned.


The bearing of the present Pacific proposals on the suggestions regarding the Anzac area recently made by the Australian and New Zealand Governments. In this connection it seems proper to point out that we had no prior opportunity of perusing the directive proposed by the Australian Government for the Commander of the Anzac area,2 and that if this area is to be retained and the proposed directive to be used for the purpose then contemplated, or if it is to be used as an indication of the instructions to be given to the Supreme Commander of the Pacific area, there are certain matters which we should wish to raise. As one page 183 particular example to which we attach great importance, the reference to the North Island of New Zealand in paragraph 5 of the proposed directive should in our opinion be to the whole of New Zealand. It would, we are convinced, be impossible to hold the North Island if the South Island is lost.

2. Though the questions generally outlined above are in our opinion of great importance, we are nevertheless so impressed with the urgency of arriving at a decision and the necessity of implementing at the earliest possible moment the supreme command of the Pacific area, which is one of the main objects of your negotiations with President Roosevelt, that we consider it would be most inadvisable and exceedingly dangerous to waste further time in discussing the finer points of the proposal, however important these may be. For our part, therefore, we are prepared to accept and to do our best to operate any arrangements finally decided upon on the general lines now proposed, and we urge the utmost expedition in bringing the arrangements into force. We assume, of course, that Australia and New Zealand would in any circumstances be consulted in respect of any steps to be taken which might affect those Dominions.

3. We should be glad to be advised as soon as possible of the progress that is being made, in connection with which at the moment we are without information.

Will you kindly supply a copy of this message to Mr Jordan.

1 Repeated to the Prime Minister of Australia and the New Zealand Minister, Washington.