New Zealand in the Vietnam War

New Zealand In The Vietnam War

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New Zealand in the Vietnam War

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New Zealand's involvement in the Vietnam War was highly controversial, sparking widespread protest at home from anti-Vietnam War movements modelled on their American counterparts. This conflict was also the first in which New Zealand did not fight alongside the United Kingdom, instead following the loyalties of the ANZUS Pact.

Initial contributions

New Zealand's initial response was carefully considered and characterised by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake's cautiousness towards the entire Vietnam question. While it was recognised that New Zealand should support Vietnam, as Holyoake simply put it;

"Whose will is to prevail in South Vietnam? The imposed will of the North Vietnamese communists and their agents, or the freely expressed will of the people of South Vietnam?"


The government preferred minimal involvement, with other South East Asian deployments already having a strain on the New Zealand armed forces. From 1961, New Zealand came under pressure from the United States of America to contribute military and economic assistance to South Vietnam , but refused. However, at that time, aircraft were tasked to deliver supplies to Tourane on the way from RAF Changi to Hong Kong from time to time.

In 1962, Australia sent advisors, as the United States had, but again New Zealand refused to make a similar contribution. Instead, a detachment of Royal New Zealand Engineers and a surgical team was sent to Vietnam, the former consisting of two officers and 20 other ranks....
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