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Royal New Zealand Air Force



It was now generally agreed that, in view of the probable development of aviation, the problem of defence would involve the use of land, sea and air forces, and a Defence Committee was formed to ensure the effective co-ordination of the three arms. Apparently the need for co-ordination was not highly regarded for the Committee's first meeting, held in July, was also its last. At the same time an Air Board was established to give advice to the Minister of Defence on all matters relating to aviation.

The Board consisted of representatives of the various Government agencies which might have an interest in the subject: the Defence, Post and Telegraph, Public Works, and Lands and Survey Departments.1 When its composition was announced in June 1920, the press commented caustically that none of its members knew anything about flying.

To rectify this oversight Captain Wilkes, NZSC,2 was appointed secretary. He had served with the RFC and the RAF during the war, and was the only officer of the New Zealand Staff Corps who was a qualified pilot.

On 25 September 1920 the Government approved what can be regarded as New Zealand's first positive aviation policy:

1 Maj-Gen Sir E. W. Chaytor, KCMG, KCVO, CB, ADC, GOC NZ Forces (President); Brig-Gen G. S. Richardson, CB, CMG, CBE (Brigadier i/c of Administration); Commander T. A. Williams, CBE, RN (Naval Adviser); T. N. Brodrick, OBE, ISO (Lands and Survey Department); A. Markman and G. McNamara (Post and Telegraph Department); and F. W. Furkert (Public Works Department).

2 Gp Capt T. M. Wilkes, CBE, MC; Upper Hutt; born Thames, 24 Mar 1888; appointed 2 Lt, NZSC, Aug 1911; Brigade Major 2 NZ Inf Bde, 1 NZEF, 1916; seconded to RFC Sep 1917–Jun 1918; General Staff Officer, Air Services, and Secretary to Air Board, 1920–23; transferred from NZSC to NZPAF 1923; Staff Officer Air Services 1924–25; Director of Air Services 1925–31; NZLO Air Ministry 1929–31; reappointed DAS 1931; received additional appointment of Controller of Civil Aviation, 1933; relinquished appointment of DAS on formation of RNZAF in 1937, but remained CCA, and was also for some months Chief Staff Officer Equipment, RNZAF; NZLO Melbourne 1940–46; NZLO to the Netherland Forces in the East, 1944–46; retired 1946.