Second World War

Second World War - overview

Second World War - overview

Discover how the Second World War reshaped the modern world. New Zealand was involved for all but three of the 2179 days of the conflict. more...

Battle of the River Plate

Battle of the River Plate

When the HMS Achilles opened fire on the German ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee on 13 December 1939 it became the first NZ unit to strike a blow at the enemy in the Second World War more...

The Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain

New Zealanders played a key role in the vital struggle to defend Britain in 1940, flying Hurricanes and Spitfires, or serving in other roles in the air, at sea and on the ground. more...

The Battle for Crete

The Battle for Crete

It remains the most dramatic battle ever faced by New Zealand forces. Over 12 brutal days in May 1941, the Allies fought off a massive German airborne assault on Crete. They almost succeeded. more...

The North African Campaign

The North African Campaign

New Zealand's longest and most important land campaign of the Second World War occurred in North Africa between 1940 and 1943. more...

War in the Pacific

War in the Pacific

The Pacific War was a conflict on a vast scale over staggering distances. It also had a lasting effect on the global politics of the region. more...

Maori and the Second World War

Maori and the Second World War

Though some Maori questioned why they should fight Britain's war, the 28th (Maori) Battalion became one of the most celebrated and decorated units in the New Zealand forces. more...

Maori War Effort Organisation

Maori War Effort Organisation

The Maori War Effort Organisation was formed during the Second World War to assist with recruitment for the forces and war-related service. more...

The Merchant Navy

The Merchant Navy

They called it 'the fourth service'. Thousands of New Zealanders served in the Merchant Navy, shipping troops, military equipment and cargo across the world. more...

The Italian Campaign

The Italian Campaign

Between 1943 and 1945 tens of thousands of Kiwis fought in Italy. Most belonged to a force affectionately known as the 'Div' - the 2nd New Zealand Division. more...

US Forces in New Zealand

US Forces in New Zealand

It was an 'invasion' with a touch of Hollywood. From 1942 to 1944, as many as 45,000 American servicemen were in camp in New Zealand at any one time. more...

Prisoners of War

Prisoners of War

They called it going 'into the bag'. During the Second World War, as many as 8000 New Zealanders were interned as prisoners of war (POWs). more...

D-Day

D-Day

It was one of the largest amphibious landings in history. On 6 June 1944 a huge Allied military machine embarked on the invasion of German-occupied France. more...

VE and VJ days

VE and VJ days

Suddenly war was over. After years of rationing and anxiety about loved ones overseas, New Zealanders greeted the coming of peace. more...

Royal NZ Navy's Bird-class ships

Royal NZ Navy's Bird-class ships

Designed primarily to train young Kiwis for service in the expanding Royal Navy, the Bird class ships were perfectly timed for New Zealand’s brand new navy. more...

HMNZS Leander

HMNZS Leander

One of two Leander-class cruisers owned by the new RNZN in 1941, the Leander was involved in some of the key sea battles of the war in the Pacific more...

Royal New Zealand Air Force

Royal New Zealand Air Force

The RNZAF has built up a proud tradition of service since it became an independent service within the New Zealand defence forces in 1937 more...

The Royal New Zealand Navy

The Royal New Zealand Navy

An overview of the Royal New Zealand Navy from its 19th Century origins to the present day more...

The Second World War at home

The Second World War at home

Civilian New Zealanders remember what it was like in New Zealand during the Second World War more...