|Photo by Alison |
Remembering those who fought for New Zealand in the other localised wars across the globe, and those who grew not old.
1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War and following on from World War 2, 1948-1965
Our first international war was the Boer War of 1899-1902 in the Transvaal region of South Africa. Following the British annexation of Transvaal in October 1900, the conflict in South Africa entered a second phase: guerrilla war.
Rotorua men were recruited and of the men who went, only one did not come home. This soldier was Fred Wylie who was killed in action at Klippersfontein. Wylie was part of the 7th contingent, 8 Coy., he was a farmer who lived at Galatea. His father Mr Joseph Wylie was a teacher and JP.
Others who went from Rotorua are Henry Robert Seymour Corlett, his father was Mr. B.S. Corlett and George Steele, one of the brothers who owned the Sawmill on the corner of Tutanekai and Eruera Sts, was a Sergeant and was shipped out at the same time as Wylie and Corlett. New Zealand soldiers are recorded in Stowers ‘Rough Riders at War’, also recorded is the names of the Maori detachment, two Te Arawa men are named, E. Hikairo and A. Wiari. Stowers reports that some of the names in the list could be misspelt.
Maori were not welcomed by the British and were officially excluded from service in South Africa, however Premier Richard Seddon made a push for Maori participation:
although permission to form a Māori contingent was never received, the New Zealand authorities sometimes turned a blind eye to individual Māori who tried to enlist under English names. Most of those who succeeded were ‘half-castes,’ as those of mixed race were then generally known. Many were well-educated and fluent in spoken and written English. NZHistory.govt.nz.
Stowers also mentions the Māori nurses and orderlies who served during 1900, one such orderly was Petera Waaka (Tuhourangi). No further information is mentioned here.
The Wylie Memorial was commissioned and Mr Parkinson of Auckland was appointed, completing the statue by January of 1904, it was unveiled c.19 January 1904. The statue comprised a water fountain at its base and above a representation of the fallen soldier. Other memorials like this one were also erected elsewhere in NZ.
Price, William Archer, 1866-1948: Collection of post card negatives. Ref: 1/2-001505-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. natlib.govt.nz/records/23080236
After World War Two...
Outside of the well documented WW1 and WW2, JayForce was
formed and served in Japan, as the New Zealand contingent of the British Commonwealth
Many Rotorua men were sent overseas for World War 2 and some
stayed on moving to JayForce and serving there for the following reason:
The Commonwealth troops were to oversee Japanese demilitarisation and demobilisation. Jayforce was initially deployed in Yamaguchi prefecture on the southern tip of the main island of Honshu, and on nearby Eta Jima Island. This was a relatively poor rural region with a population of 1.4 million – not much less than New Zealand’s total population at the time. The New Zealanders’ first task was to search for military equipment. Little was found, as Yamaguchi had not had a major military presence during the war. Jayforce also assisted with the repatriation of Japanese who were coming home and Koreans who were being returned to their own country… An April 1948 decision to withdraw Jayforce from Japan was implemented by early 1949. (NZHistory.govt.nz)
Approximately 45 Rotorua men were part of the BCOF you can find their names on the Auckland War Memorial Museum Online
Recognition for Jayforce, was the New Zealand Service
Medal 1946-1949, not issued until 1995.
|Photo by Alison, courtesy of Kete Rotorua|
Prior to New Zealand’s armed forces became involved, it was reported in February 1949 that ‘South Korea has been invaded by Soviet trained troops with Russian rifles, machine guns, mortars and field artillery’ (Ashburton Guardian, 1949) Officially the war began 25 June 1950. In July of 1950, Koreans living in Japan were called upon to “rise and sabotage the war effort of the United States” (Ashburton Guardian, 1950).
New Zealand’s 1056-man Kayforce arrived at Pusan, South Korea, on New Year’s Eve 1950. It was part of the United Nations’ ‘police action’ to repel North Korea’s invasion of its southern neighbour. The New Zealanders joined the 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade and saw action for the first time in late January 1951. Thereafter they took part in the operations in which the UN forces fought their way back to and across the 38th Parallel, recapturing Seoul in the process.
Of those enlisted were 292 were from Rotorua, listed in the Rotorua Morning Post from 28th July 1950 to 4th August 1950, a further enlistment occurred in June 1951 and January 1953.
In November of 1951 an article printed in the Press (Christchurch) reports that the North Korean Foreign Minister made a four-point proposal to the United States to end the Korean War. However it was not until 1953 that armistice was finally reached. The Russian Prime Minister immediately offered congratulations to Kim Il Sung and also offered assistance to help ‘rehabilitate Korea’.
It was an uneasy truce it seems because reports came from Taipei that the Republic of Korea would take military action if a general war flares up in the Formosa Strait, since the Korean Communists had violated the truce agreement. (Press, 1955)
However New Zealand had recalled Kayforce and in the Rotorua Post of 18 June 1957, this small article appeared on the front page:
K-Force Men to return, only about
70 men will return in August. The troops
go by sea to Hong Kong and will fly home in an air force aircraft, No.41
Squadron via Singapore, Darwin and Amberley, finally arriving at Whenuapai
August 10th & 11th.
Rotorua Post (1957, June 18).
|Photo by Alison, courtesy of Kete Rotorua|
Malayan Emergency 1952-1966
Three British planters in northern Malaya in
1948 were murdered. This brought on
hostilities in Malaya dubbed the Malayan Emergency, once more called for
international help. A guerrilla campaign
was mounted by the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party against British
forces. New Zealand got involved in 1949 when several
army officers served while on secondment with British units.
Since the situation in Malaya was still ongoing, NZ called
for SAS volunteers. Four Rotorua men enlisted and undertook training, and embarked
among the 190 strong contingent. They were Clive P. Ngatai, Buck H. Rogers and
Mathew Tamehana and Sonny Osbourne. Rotorua
Post. (1955. October 25).
Later once the need for soldiers increased the Rotorua Post
‘Recruiting will start tomorrow for Malayan
The Minister of Defence, Mr
Macdonald said recruiting for an infantry battalion would start on the 19th
of June at all army offices. The Army sub-area office in Rotorua is in the
Mokoia Buildings at the corner of Hinemoa and Tutanekai Streets.
The article goes on to say
The force will be known as the New Zealand Army Force,
Far East Land Forces. The force is to be drawn mainly from new
enlistments…volunteers will have the chance of the normal five years regular
engagement of three years…applications will be accepted from men between the
ages of 21 and 35, with preference given to single men under 30. 20 year olds
would be accepted providing they had their parents’ consent’’ (Rotorua Post,
In August of 1957 a
photograph was published of all the Rotorua men who were leaving by bus for
Papakura that day, later on page 6 the men were named. Those men were D. Trueman, K. McGregor, G.
Midwood, N. R. Mackay, V. Ratana, F. Eruini, D. Rogers, F. Clarke, R, Te Kiri,
A. Williams, M. Curtis, D. Unsworth and P. Morehu’
Others in the photograph could be from Atiamuri:
B. Slade, S.
Kopa, R. Cassidy and G. Cassidy
Taupo: G.H. Grant. Wairakei: G. Muller, Murupara: M. Tipoki,
Mangakino: B. Middleton and R. Lloyd (Rotorua Post, 1957)
Recruits were given basic
training at Waiouru, Burnham and Papakura, the central North Island recruits
were sent to Papakura before being flown to Malaya from Auckland.
It was to turn into a long
drawn out ‘confrontation’ and in October of 1959, the Christchurch Press
reported that ‘As the Malayan emergency drags through its twelfth year, members
of the RNZAF stationed in Singapore are still helping the Commonwealth effort
to eliminate the remaining terrorists in the Malayan jungle’. The RNZAF continued to deliver aid to the
forces on the ground throughout the final drawn out year.
The Rotorua men all returned home, some in time for
Christmas in December of 1959 the rest by early 1960. One Rotorua soldier
returned with an English wife, she had been a dentist at the Kuala Lumpur
military hospital and six other soldiers married Malayan girls. (Rotorua Post,
Those who returned had harrowing stories and some that have
never been told.
Other New Zealand peacekeeping forces continued to be posted
to Malaya between the years 1960-1964.
Indonesia / Borneo c.1962-1966
Fighting over territory in Borneo had
long been a problem for all involved, namely Britain, The Netherlands, Japan,
Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia and in the middle of it all the Dayaks who
are the indigenous people.
Border skirmishes continued between
Malaya and Indonesia and North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore and the Indonesians carried out
armed incursions and acts of subversion and sabotage, including bombings, to
destabilise the federation. Singapore experienced a series of bombing
incidents, which killed seven people and injured 50 others. (nlb.gov.sg)
British and Commonwealth forces including Australians
supported Malaysia. At stake was the future of the former British possessions,
Sabah and Sarawak, which bordered Indonesia's provinces on Borneo. (dva.gov.au)
This new dispute was named a ‘confrontation’
beginning in 1963 it finally ceased when on 11 August 1966 when a peace treaty
was signed in Bangkok. New Zealand had
not sent soldiers until 1 February 1965, after a request from the Malaysians. A
limited SAS detachment and two former Royal Navy minesweepers, renamed HMNZS Hickleton and Santon were to join the frigate HMNZS Taranaki patrolling in the Malacca Strait.
Troops and air force pilots were deployed, approximately
28 Rotorua men served in Borneo.
New Zealand’s involvement in this complex area of
the world was ended after the treaty was signed, the news articles of the day
mention that they should be home by November of 1966.
|Photo by Alison, courtesy of Kete Rotorua|
Vietnam War 1961-1975
New Zealand’s involvement began in April 1962 when capital and civil technical assistance and in 1963 a civilian surgical team arrived in Vietnam and NZ’s contribution continued in providing aid.
The first New Zealand troops into action were the gunners of 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery. On 16 July 1965, they fired their first shells near Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). New Zealand came under renewed pressure from US President Johnson to expand its commitment in Vietnam. In 1967, NZ sent two infantry companies – V and W – from the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in Malaysia, along with a tri-service medical team – 1st New Zealand Services Medical Team. A Special Air Service (SAS) troop arrived the following year.
NZ forces were involved in artillery offensives, cordon and search patrols, intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions around Phuoc Tuy province. New Zealand gunners were one of three field artillery batteries comprising part of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF). Kiwi infantrymen made up two of the Anzac Battalion’s five company-sized units. A 26-man New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) troop completed the Australian SAS squadron at Nui Dat. (nzhistory.govt.nz)
'Vietnam War map', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/vietnam-war-map, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 15-Sep-2014
Here is some local information regarding men who enlisted in Rotorua:
Gunner Alan Scott only Rotorua man to join V-Force (Rotorua Daily Post, 1965)
Following this in 1967 when New Zealand agreed to send more troops many more young men from this district enlisted.
Enlisting at the Rotorua sub-office was the only option for men from the Bay of Plenty towns like Edgecumbe, Murupara and just to the south from Taupo and Turangi, Mangakino etc. also it is documented that the Infantry battalion was replaced from Malaysia after serving 1 year there.
New Zealand's commitment peaked at just over 500 troops in 1968. The last Kiwis left South Vietnam in December 1972. The last American troops left the following year. By the time the war was finally over, at the fall of Saigon in April 1975, more than three and a half million people had died. (North & South. May 2018, Issue 386, p67-81)
|Polynesian Protest 1972, note two Bay of Plenty identities Tame
Iti and John Ohia, |
Photograph courtesy of John Miller
How this controversial war affected Rotorua residents is covered in the Rotorua Daily Post from 1965-1972, also mentioned are the names of the young men who enlisted and came home changed forever and those who did not return.
See also https://vietnamwar.govt.nz/
Rotorua men and women have been involved in many other horrific wars since this time and continue to serve our country wherever they are needed.
R. (2002). Rough riders at war. R.
Press. (1949, February
4). South Korea invaded: 1000
Soviet-trained troops. Press.
Press. (1950, June
26). State of war in Korea: northern
armies invade south. Press.
Post. (1955, May 21). M-force men on final leave. Rotorua
Post. (1957, June 18). Recruiting will
start tomorrow for Malaya Battalion. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1957, June 18). K-Force men to be
home in August. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1957, June 19). FN rifle will be
weapon of new Malaya force. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1957, August 1). They’re in the
army now. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1957, August 1). Malaya Force men
leave for Papakura. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1959, Dec 17). Rotorua men would
be happy to go back to Malaya. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1965, June 6). N.Z. Battery gets
‘go ahead’. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1969, May 26). [Untitled
photograph]. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1970, June 20). Rotorua soldier
suffers wounds. Rotorua Post.
Post. (1970, November 2). Rotorua soldier
injured. Rotorua Post.
Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2021). Main body of Jayforce lands in Japan. Ministry for Culture and
Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2018) South African War, 1899-1902. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/south-african-boer-war/introduction
Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2020). New Zealand in the Korean War. Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2021). NZ and the Malayan Emergency.
Ministry for Culture and Heritage. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/the-malayan-emergency
(1959, Dec 17). Rotorua men would be happy
to be back in Malaya. Rotorua Post.
Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2021). NZ and Confrontation in Borneo. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/confrontation-in-borneo
HistorySG. (2014). Konfrontasi (Confrontation) ends - Singapore
DVA (Department of Veterans'
Affairs) (2021), The Indonesian
Confrontation 1962 to 1966. https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-and-missions/indonesian-confrontation-1962-1966
Te Pae Wānanga, Research and
Publishing Team. Vietnam War. Ministry
for Culture and Heritage. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/vietnam-war.
Culture and Heritage. On operations |
VietnamWar.govt.nz, New Zealand and the Vietnam War
Stanley, B. (2018). Brothers in
arms. North & South.