Classroom ideas - the Malayan Emergency

This page contains a broad outline as to how the material on the Malayan Emergency could be used by teachers and learners studying history at NCEA Level 1 and in particular the popular topic of New Zealand's Search for Security 1945-1985. 

Students in particular will find this to be a concise summary that will assist them with revision. 

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NZ Forces in Asia 1948-72

NCEA History Level 1 

In the aftermath of the Second World War it became clear that New Zealand could no longer rely on Britain for it's defence. Attention turned to the United States which brought New Zealand into the Cold War. The United States was determined to contain the spread of communism in Asia. In support of this policy New Zealand became increasingly involved in Asia after the Second World War. New Zealand's involvement in the Korean War was part of its commitment to the collective security offered by the United Nations, while the more controversial participation in Vietnam was part of New Zealand's obligation to the United States and its policy of containing the spread of communism.

Many New Zealanders were also keen to maintain ties with Britain. One such example of this was New Zealand's response to the Malayan Communist Party's attempt in 1948 to overthrow the British colonial administration of Malaya. Over the twelve years that the conflict took place, New Zealand soldiers, sailors and airmen made a significant contribution to the Commonwealth effort to defeat the communist insurgency. The Malayan Emergency is often overshadowed by the higher profile Korean and Vietnam Wars. New Zealand believed it was showing commitment to our former, principal ally, Britain while also supporting the general policy of our newest ally, the United States, in confronting and containing the spread of communism in the region.

This feature can provide students with a context in which to prepare for:

  • achievement standard 1.5, by describing the causes and course of this historical development as well as the consequences of these developments.
  • achievement standard 1.6 as the Cold War and emphasis on Asia had a significant impact on the shaping of the identity of New Zealanders
  • achievement standard 1.3 as there are any number of excellent historical sources relating to these developments which can be used as practice for final assessment

For more detail of specific activities relating to this topic see: New Zealand's Search for Security NCEA History Level 1

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