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

179 — The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the New Zealand Minister, Washington1

The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the New Zealand Minister, Washington1

5 April 1942

Your telegram of 3 April.

We have carefully considered the proposed areas and directives for the Pacific theatre. We note with regret that these proposals consolidate the division, to which we have always been and still are firmly opposed, between Australia and New Zealand, which in our opinion form one strategic whole. This division, as we have from time to time pointed out, must create a number of difficult and important problems which we will, however, hope to solve as best we may by direct liaison with the responsible authorities in Australia.

With regard to paragraph (10) (c) of the directive to the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Ocean area, there are, as you know, substantial New Zealand forces in Fiji, and it is not clear to us whether the control of these forces is to continue in the future, as in the past, to lie directly with the New Zealand authorities.

The authority of the Commander-in-Chief and the Commander of the South Pacific area over the New Zealand Forces might well be construed as entitling them to move New Zealand troops from this Dominion to other portions of the area. That they should have such an authority is not contested, but we feel strongly that it should be understood, either by reference in the directive or otherwise, that any such power to move troops from the Dominion should be subject to prior consultation and agreement with the New Zealand Government.

Subject to the above considerations which we would wish you to record with the Americans, we are prepared to accept the proposals. They are not what we would wish and we are by no means convinced that they are the best that can be made, but, as you know, we attach the utmost importance to an early decision and to obtain this at once we are prepared to waive our views.

Please advise the American authorities accordingly and keep me informed of the progress that is made.

1 Repeated to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the Prime Minister of Australia.