New Zealand's Search for Security 1945-1985

New Zealand's Search for Security 1945-1985

This wikibook is designed to become a collaborative textbook for New Zealand secondary school students studying the above topic. Guiding questions for this topic are:

(a) What new directions did New Zealand foreign policy take after World War II? edit

Background: New Zealand in the post-war period edit

Important issues confronting New Zealand in the post-war period:

  • The demise of Great Britain as a global power.
    • The Fall of Singapore. The fall of Singapore, one of the biggest defeats in the history of the British Army by the Japanese Army, was on February 15th 1942. The British troops underestimated the Japanese armies, so they were not prepared
      Damage to the city of Coventry caused by Nazi bombs.
    • Damage caused by Nazi bombing during the Blitz. The Blitz was the sustained bombing of Britain by Germany. This happened between 7th of September 1940 and My 10th 1941 during world war 2. its intended goal of forcing and demoralising Britain into surrender was not accomplished. The Blitz did little to assist Germany in invading Britain. After the Blitz civilians felt they had an enormous role to play to protect there cities. Many civilians who were not able to join the military became members of the home guard and more importantly the air raid precaution service. The Blitz destroyed hundreds of buildings and many families. This event destroyed British cities but failed to destroy their moral.
    • Economy rebuilding as a result of damage suffered during the war effort.
  • The beginnings of the Cold War between U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.
  • The economic vulnerability brought about by a reliance on a single (European) market for most of their products. New Zealand main exports were primary products in the 1940s and 1950s.
  • The psychological damage to the nation caused by Japanese aggression in the Pacific. These acts of aggression included:
    • The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. On the 7th of December 1941, the Japanese commenced a surprise attack on the American Navy base of Pearl Harbor. It was a devastating defeat for the American forces, and it is particularly notable that eight battleships were sunk or damaged. The attack came without a formal declaration of war, and was infamous in the eyes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who shortly afterwards declared war on Japan and entered WWII. The decisive show of force and the nature of the attack shocked New Zealand, who were forced to face the changing tactics of warfare, where combined navy/air tactics dominated.
    • the destruction of the HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Repulse in Singapore
    • the bombing of Darwin and the capture of a Japanese submarine in Sydney Harbour. The bombing of Darwin (19 February 1942) was a Japanese air raid on Darwin initiated about 200 miles Northwest of Darwin. The bombing was led by the same commander who attacked Pearl Harbour: Mitsuo Fuchid. There were six aircraft carriers involved; some of these were Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu. In May 1942, Sydney Harbour was attacked by Japanese manned submarines. There were three enemy submarines that entered the harbour and began trying to destroy ally ships. Two of the crews of the submarines committed suicide and the other was not recovered until 2006 where the wreck was found off shore.
    • the surveillance of New Zealand by Japanese reconnaissance planes.
  • Increasing contact with the United States as a result of U.S. servicemen being stationed in New Zealand.
    • Quick information: At any one time between June 1942 and mid-1944 there were between 15,000 and 45,000 American servicemen in camps in New Zealand across New Zealand. Their lives were based in these camps. Camp life must have seemed spartan if you landed directly from the United States (some soldiers were no more than 17 years old), comfortable if you arrived from the heat of a Pacific battle.
    • Entertainment: The American soldiers' entertainment was based on sport; these included crowds of 20,000 watching a baseball game at Wellington's Athletic Park in January 1943, also Boxing tournaments were held, intense competitive games of American football was played on Eden Park in Auckland between the army and the marines. Also In Wellington in mid-1943 an old Wakefield Street building was converted into a gymnasium and sports stadium for basketball and badminton.
The bombing of Nagasaki 1945
  • The emergence of nuclear weapons as a major factor in global relations. After the bombing of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States the world saw the impact and scale of mass destruction a single nuclear bomb can cause. This caused outburst of fears from many countries and was received as a very controversial way to end the war. The sheer power of nuclear bombs was enough to stimulate many countries into developing nuclear weapons. Among these countries were United King, France, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Countries who posses nuclear weapons quickly rose as very influential powers in their region and caused many international tensions. New Zealand tested Nuclear weapons along with the Americans and the British in Australia. They had not guinea pigs but sacrificial lambs wearing different protective clothing to see if the protective clothing could help against the impact of the nuclear tests.

Involvement in the United Nations edit

Peter Fraser. Prime Minister of New Zealand 1940-1949.

Prime Minister Peter Fraser guided New Zealand's foreign policy in the post-war period, and he played a large role in the creation of the United Nations Organisation also. The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.The New Zealand government had always been pro-League of Nations, but with the emergence of the United Nations as a pan-global organisation dedicated to security and peace, NZ stepped up its support. PM Peter Fraser was very vocal during the 1945 San Francisco conference that established the UN (or the UNO as it was known then) and came to be seen as something of a spokesman for the smaller nations of the world. Fraser also opposed the veto right of permanent members of the security council. This increased support for an international organisation was driven by a number of factors:

  • the demise of Great Britain as a world power
  • the passing of the Statute of Westminster
  • the fear that Japan (and other countries) might represent a threat to the nations of the pacific, and
  • the building of tension that eventually became the cold war

Fraser was critical of the draft plan for the UN, say it asked the great powers to make 'no pledges, no guarantees and no undertakings.'[1]

"In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter. Those delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States in August-October 1944. The Charter was signed on 26 June 1945 by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 Member States.

The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other signatories." [2]

Involvement with the Commonwealth edit

The ANZUS treaty. edit

ANZUS was a collective military security treaty signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States. It was negotiated in 1951, formally accepted by all three countries in 1952 and marked the beginning of New Zealand's movement away from 'mother Britain' towards the emerging super-power, the United States.

The SEATO treaty. edit

(b) Why and how has New Zealand become increasingly involved in South-East Asia and the Pacific since World War II? edit

New Zealand’s relationships: edit

Western Samoa

Support towards independence:

Aid and Development:

The Cook Islands New Zealand gave many different types of aid and development assistance to the Cook Islands.They did this through a organisation called NZ AID. This aid included education and training, economic development, marine resources, governance and gender equality. Education aid was 40% of New Zealand and Australia's aid towards the Cook Islands. The Education aid is a long term strategy that is chosen to improve the schooling of pre-school to vocational studies including those with special needs. NZAID/AusAID assistance to the education sector focuses on:

  • Support to schools and the Ministry of Education. This includes the provision of teachers and curriculum advisers, upskilling of principals, heads of department, and upgrading of school libraries
  • Refurbishment of school buildings
  • In-country training, particularly for trades such as automotive, electrical and carpentry; business management and tourism
  • Short-term training awards in New Zealand
  • Scholarships to study in New Zealand and the Pacific region with priority given to tourism, finance, education/teaching, marine, environment and health.

NZAID gave aid to the cook islands also by developing their economy.

Support towards independence:

Aid and Development:


Support towards independence:

New Zealand helped Niue develop independence in various ways, some of which are listed below.

  • "Halavaka ke he Monuina Arrangement (HkhMA) for a Programme of Strengthened Cooperation with Niue was signed by the New Zealand Prime Minister and the Niue Premier on 30 October 2004. The arrangement facilitates closer cooperation between New Zealand and Niue government agencies, representing a major shift in New Zealand's approach to managing its relationship with Niue."
  • New Zealand invested NZ$20 million over five years in "capital and infrastructure projects" which saw a strengthening of Niue's self-reliance. "A large portion of infrastructure spending will be allocated to the development of the new Niue hospital."

These have all helped Niue develop independence, through the help of New Zealand. [quoted from]

Aid and Development:

  • NZ assists in Niue's education by setting up the education development project which is aimed at improving the quality of early childhood, primary and secondary education in order to sustainably improve outcome for students.
  • A further NZ$10 million over five years will strengthen links between New Zealand and Niue government departments. NZAID's immediate priority is to link New Zealand public service expertise with Niue's public sector capacity gaps. This will require a new culture of learning and more active involvement and support from New Zealand government agencies, including ongoing mentoring and other support arrangements.

The Tokelaus

Support towards independence: there was a Tokelau Islands Act of 1948

Aid and Development: about 4 million dollars annually to maintain public services. In addition, other than aid, Tokelauans remit money back to relatives in the island.

Some key dates: edit

  • 1947 The Statute of Westminster was passed, making New Zealand an independent nation.
  • 1951 ANZUS Treaty signed
  • 1954 SEATO (the Manila Treaty) was signed.
  • 2009 Tokelau is NZ's only remaining independent nation

Military involvement: Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam. edit

(c) What was New Zealand’s role on the international stage 1970–1985? edit

The role of foreign aid and development assistance; edit

Opposition to nuclear testing, and the role of peace groups; edit

Reassessment of treaty obligations. edit


  1. p.57 Mackinnon, Independence and Foreign Policy