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Commemorations acknowledge New Zealand’s contribution in Second World War and South-East Asia

Media release: 13 September 2017

Two significant commemorations, one marking the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) involvement during the Second World War and the other New Zealand’s contribution to military operations in Malaya and Malaysia, will be held in the National War Memorial, Pukeahu, this week.

“These commemorations demonstrate the significant contribution New Zealand made to air operations during the Second World War and the subsequent conflicts in Malaya and Malaysia which spanned nearly two decades,” Paul James Chief Executive Manatū Taonga said today.

“On 1 April 1937 the RNZAF became an independent service within the New Zealand Defence Force.  Two and a-half years later it started training thousands of aircrew for the war in Europe before developing into a highly effective combat force in the Pacific.         

“The RNZAF had a pivotal role in the war and more than 4000 New Zealand airmen lost their lives.

“Our airmen, sailors and soldiers were involved in both the Malayan Emergency (1948-60) and the subsequent Confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia (1964-66). Twenty-six New Zealand servicemen lost their lives during these two campaigns, three as a result of enemy action.

“In the late 1950s both the Special Air Service and infantry battalions were sent to Malaya to fight communist insurgents. Then in 1964 New Zealand began helping the new federated state of Malaysia to fight Indonesia’s attempt to gain control of the North Borneo territories in what was known as the Confrontation.

“Both these remembrance services at Pukeahu are an opportunity for the public to share in the commemoration and learn more about New Zealand’s overseas commitment in these conflicts.

“Pukeahu National War Memorial Park continues to develop as the place for national remembrance and commemoration,” Paul James said.

Minister of Defence, Hon Mark Mitchell, is due to attend the RNZAF Commemoration on Friday and Attorney-General Hon Chris Finlayson will attend Saturday’s Malaya/Malaysia Commemoration.

The ceremonies will include a wreath laying and the Last Post. Members of the public are asked to be seated in the Hall of Memories by 10.45am for each service which begin at 11.00am on Friday 15 September and Saturday 16 September.

Commemoration Details

11.00am Friday, 15 September 2017 – the 75th Anniversary of the RNZAF in the Second World War

11.00am Saturday 16 September 2017 – Malaya/Malaysia Operations

More information

For more information on the Royal New Zealand Air Force contribution in World War Two see: and more information on the Malayan emergency is at:

Updated on 15th September 2017