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Commemorating New Zealand’s military operations in Malaya and Malaysia

Media release: 15 September 2021

New Zealanders are invited to participate in online activities to honour those who served in New Zealand’s post-Second World War military operations in Malaya and Malaysia. The usual annual ceremony at the National War Memorial is unable to proceed this week due to current COVID-19 alert levels.

"This annual commemoration pays tribute to the contribution New Zealand made to Commonwealth forces for nearly 20 years, from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s," Brodie Stubbs, Manager Te Pae Mahara Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage said today.

"Between 1949 and 1966 New Zealand soldiers, sailors and airmen played a small but significant role in two Southeast Asian conflicts: the Malayan Emergency (1948-60) and the subsequent ‘Confrontation Campaign’ between Indonesia and Malaysia (1964-66).

"Approximately 4,000 New Zealand servicemen served during these campaigns. Sadly, twenty servicemen are recorded on New Zealand’s Roll of Honour as having lost their lives during operational service, three as a result of enemy action.

"New Zealand’s involvement began in 1949 when a flight of RNZAF 41 Squadron Dakotas were used to drop supplies to anti-guerrilla forces. In the late 1950s, both Special Air Service and infantry battalions were sent to Malaya.

"In 1964, New Zealand began helping the newly federated state of Malaysia to resist Indonesia’s attempt to gain control of the North Borneo territories, in what was known as the Confrontation Campaign.

"On 11 August 1966 Indonesian and Malaysian representatives signed a peace treaty in Bangkok with New Zealanders completing their withdrawal from Borneo in October.

"In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, this year's public ceremony has been cancelled.

"We appreciate that the cancellation will be disappointing, especially for veterans and their whānau. We look forward to honouring them in person at future commemorations.

"Online resources will be available on the Pukeahu National War Memorial website and Facebook page this week for people wishing to mark the occasion in their homes, and for those who would like to learn more," Brodie Stubbs said.

Further information about New Zealand’s contribution is available at:

New Zealand and the Malayan Emergency, NZ History

New Zealand and the Confrontation in Borneo, NZ History


Published on 15th September 2021