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National Commemoration to mark Aotearoa New Zealand’s military operations in Malaya and Malaysia

Media release: 13 September 2023

The National Commemoration to honour those who served in New Zealand’s post-Second World War military operations in Malaya and Malaysia will be held at 11.00am, Saturday 16 September at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

"Each year on 16 September we take the time to remember the New Zealanders who served in Southeast Asia from 1949 to 1966," said Emily Fabling, Pou Mataaho o Te Aka Deputy Chief Executive Policy and Sector Performance.

"The two conflicts, the Malayan Emergency (1948 - 60) and the ‘Confrontation Campaign’ between Indonesia and Malaysia, involved New Zealand airmen, sailors and soldiers who played a vital role serving alongside Commonwealth forces.

"4,000 New Zealand servicemen served during these campaigns. The National Roll of Honour records twenty as having lost their lives during their operational service, three because direct of enemy action" said Emily Fabling.

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Historian Neill Atkinson notes that over nearly 20 years, Aotearoa New Zealand aided the Commonwealth forces, beginning with deploying a flight of RNZAF 41 Squadron Dakotas to drop supplies to anti-guerilla forces in 1949. From the late 1950s, both Special Air Service and infantry battalions were sent to Malaya.

"By 1964, New Zealand was assisting the newly federated state of Malaysia to resist Indonesia’s attempt to destablise the North Borneo territories in what is known as the Confrontation Campaign."

"A peace treaty was signed on 11 August 1966. The last New Zealand servicemen formally withdrew from Borneo in October that year said Neill Atkinson.

Members of the public who are interested in attending the commemoration are asked to please arrive at the Hall of Memories in the National War Memorial by 10:45am for an 11:00am start.

For those unable to attend in person, the ceremony will be livestreamed on the Pukeahu Facebook page and the Manatū Taonga Youtube channel from 11:00am.

Further information

New Zealand and the Malayan Emergency. (NZHistory)

New Zealand and the Confrontation Campaign in Borneo.(NZHistory)

Updated on 27th September 2023