international relations

Events In History


The Cold War

  • The Cold War

    Although the origins of the so-called Cold War can be traced back to the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, this intense ideological struggle between the Western powers and the Soviet Union really began after the Second World War.

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  • Page 2 – Overview

    New Zealand’s participation in the Cold War was shaped by its decision to support the Western powers in their confrontation with the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

  • Page 3 – Choosing sides

    New Zealand backed Britain and the United States against the Soviet Union as the Cold War began in the late 1940s. Like the other Western Allies, New Zealand’s relationship

  • Page 4 – Treaties and alliances

    During the 1940s and 1950s New Zealand signed a series of collective treaties with Britain and the United States aimed at countering the threats of Japanese military resurgence

  • Page 5 – South-East Asia

    During the 1950s the focus of New Zealand’s defence strategy shifted from the Middle East to Asia.

  • Page 7 – Last decade

    Soviet-American tensions revived in the late 1970s as ‘détente’ (co-operation) gave way to a renewed arms race.

Nuclear-free New Zealand

  • Nuclear-free New Zealand

    The sinking of the Greenpeace protest ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland in July 1985 shocked the nation. The incident galvanised an anti-nuclear movement that had emerged in opposition to both French nuclear tests at Mururoa and American warship visits to New Zealand. 

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  • Page 4 – Nuclear-free legislation

    Labour leader David Lange tried to work with the Americans, but their 'neither confirm nor deny' policy made a middle ground virtually impossible to find.

  • Page 5 – Sinking the Rainbow Warrior

    In 1985 New Zealand was basking in its position as leader of the anti-nuclear movement. Then on 10 July, two explosions set by French Secret Service agents ripped through the

New Zealand and the United Nations

  • New Zealand and the United Nations

    New Zealand has a tradition of commitment to the concept of collective security. It was a member of the League of Nations between the world wars and was active in the establishment of the United Nations in June 1945.

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  • Page 2 – The League of Nations

    New Zealand was a founding member of the League of nations and was awarded German Samoa as a Mandated Territory by the League.

  • Page 3 – Participation in the United Nations

    The United Nations Charter established six principal organs to achieve its aims. New Zealand has played a part in all of these organs.

  • Page 4 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    In 1950 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to adopt 10 December as Human Rights Day. New Zealand has participated actively in human rights deliberations at

First World War - overview

  • First World War - overview

    Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie were assassinated in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. This was a key event in sparking the Great War of 1914–18.

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  • Page 6 – The legacy of war

    The war had a major impact on constitutional arrangements within the British Empire, and it affected New Zealand's international status.

Capture of German Samoa

  • Capture of German Samoa

    When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, Britain asked New Zealand to seize German Samoa as a ‘great and urgent Imperial service’. Although the tiny German garrison offered no opposition, at the time it was regarded as a potentially risky action.

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  • Page 2 - New Zealand in the PacificSamoans were not consulted when Britain, Germany and the United States agreed to partition their islands in December

  • This case study examines New Zealand's involvement in the nuclear debate of the 1970s and 1980s, culminating in a breakdown of the ANZUS alliance in 1985. With


  • Nash, Walter

    At almost 76, Walter Nash was New Zealand’s oldest incoming PM and the last foreign-born one. He had two wives, Lotty, and Parliament. He was still an MP when he died aged 86.

  • Allen, James

    As Minister of Defence from 1912 until 1920, James Allen was responsible for the organisation of New Zealand’s military forces during the First World War.