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

Section II

page 238

Section II

4. The strength of the army required to secure the safety of New Zealand is naturally much influenced by the naval situation and by the strength of the New Zealand air forces. The naval situation, even if in our favour, is liable to a complete upset by defeat and cannot at present be regarded as in any way a substitute for local defences. Air defence depends upon quality and number of aircraft, efficiency of air units and the capacity of aerodromes, and does not appear likely to afford a sufficient deterrent against heavy scale attack for a long time. Land forces are therefore of prime importance meanwhile until the naval and air situations develop materially in our favour.

5. Factors of importance in the land defence of New Zealand are:


Isolation of New Zealand from other land, which virtually prevents enemy use of shore-based aircraft during approach and enhances the value of both strong New Zealand air forces and of strong land forces to prevent the enemy securing a footing anywhere in New Zealand.


Elongated shape, lengthy coastline, present incomplete warning system, prevalence of harbours and landing beaches, great distances between vulnerable points, the existence of Cook Strait, limited capacity of main roads, and 3 ft 6 in. gauge railways.

These factors require strong mobile forces in at least seven widely separated areas and local garrisons for secondary ports and sheltered waters in addition to fortress areas. Aerodrome protection is difficult as many are close to the coast and there is much flat land in sparsely populated areas. Thus, the forces required in each island must be considerably superior to likely enemy forces to ensure speedy and effective opposition by at least equal forces and rapid concentrations of superior force….1

8. Your paragraph (c)

Increasing existing companies to battalions and calling up personnel to form garrison battalions.

Raising Maori battalion.

Training and throwing off cadres to man additional coast, medium, field, anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery due to arrive.

Training Home Guard instructors and personnel to man various anti-aircraft equipment and Coast Defence artillery sets.

Training in the Army approximately 6000 Air Force recruits for aerodrome battalions until required in the Air Force….2

1 Detailed estimates of the land forces required for the defence of New Zealand and Fiji, as well as a statement of the forces then available, have been omitted.

2 Proposals for the production of weapons and equipment are omitted.

page 239

9. State of Readiness.

(i) By 30 June: Two-thirds of force complete minimum of six months' continuous training, balance three months. On present indications the equipment situation should then be satisfactory except for 9·2-inch equipments, anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft searchlights, tanks for nine AFV regiments, anti-tank mines, and possible rifles for 100,000 Home Guard. Forces should be well able to undertake active operations. Entrenchments, obstacles and improvements to roads and bridges should be well advanced.

(ii) By 31 December: Forces should be thoroughly fit for any operations….1

1 Details of reinforcements and equipment required from outside sources for the defence of New Zealand and Fiji are omitted.