The changing roles of the New Zealand armed forces, 1965-1980
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis looks at the changing roles of the New Zealand armed forces from 1965 to 1980. It deals with four particular roles. The Alliance role, Territorial role, Regional role, and Civil role, and attempts to determine whether there has been any change in each role's particular operation and in the relative importance of the four roles overall. Research for this subject consisted basically of a study of defence policy statements and opinions as put forward by political and military people and contained in such things as the annual Defence Report, the periodic Defence Review and newspaper sources. Representatives of each of the groups concerned with defence, politicians, civil servants and military personnel were interviewed in Wellington during 1979: also a study of the suitability of existing and proposed equipment for each of the four roles was conducted. The main features that became apparent as a result of this study were: the influence of financial constraints as a primary determinant of defence policy; the inferior position of New Zealand's defence forces in comparison with those of other nations throughout the Asian-Pacific region; and an apparent downturn in the overall importance of New Zealand's defence forces implied in recent policy decisions and by the decline of military capabilities during the period between 1965 and 1980. As well as this general trend in New Zealand defence there were also interesting trends within each of the four particular roles. The most significant aspect of the New Zealand armed forces today is the civil role. Without the services carried out by the armed forces, the country as a whole would be left in the difficult situation of having to provide these services from elsewhere. And the military would be left without a suitable justification for their continued existence on the present scale. In contrast to this, each of the other roles has been allotted less importance over the years. The question of maintaining a military capability is a difficult one for New Zealand and many of the problems choices and decisions as they relate to the four main roles are looked at here.