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NZ units in South Africa 1899-1902

Page 2 – The contingents

New Zealand Contingents

First Contingent

Departed: 21 October 1899 from Wellington
Total strength: 215

Known as the First New Zealand Mounted Rifles, the First Contingent consisted of men who had been selected from regional volunteer forces. Commanded by Major Alfred Robin, it was divided into two companies and departed from Wellington aboard the SS Waiwera on 21 October 1899. Read more about the First Contingent on

Second Contingent

Departed: 20 January 1900 from Wellington
Total strength: 266 (including Hotchkiss detachment)

In mid-December 1899, following a series of British defeats, Premier Richard Seddon proposed to the New Zealand House of Representatives that a second contingent should be raised. Unlike the First Contingent, the Second Contingent contained men from the regular military and civilians who were good riders and marksmen. These men were divided into two companies of mounted riflemen and a 39-man Hotchkiss machine-gun detachment. Training took place at Newtown Park in Wellington. Commanded by Major Montagu Cradock, the contingent embarked for southern Africa on 20 January 1900. Read more about the Second Contingent on

Third Contingent

Departed: 17 February 1900 from Lyttelton
Total strength: 262

The idea of a Third Contingent was initiated by the Mayor of Christchurch who, along with a group of businessmen, offered to organise the contingent on behalf of the government. Based at a training camp in Christchurch, the Third Contingent was supported by funds raised by a local committee. The contingent was comprised of two companies, one from Canterbury and one drawn from the Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui, Taranaki and Manawatu regions. Read more about the Third Contingent on

Fourth Contingent

Departed: 24 March 1900 from Port Chalmers; 31 March 1900 from Lyttelton
Total strength: 462

In keeping with the idea of privately organised contingents, a committee of Otago businessmen also began to raise support for an Otago-based contingent. The Fourth Contingent was divided into four companies: No. 9 and No. 10 from Otago and Southland, and No. 7 and No. 8 from the North Island. As a result the 'Dandy Fourth' had two commanders, with Major Frederick Francis commanding the Otago and Southland companies and Major Joe Sommerville in charge of the other two companies. Together with the Third Contingent they were known as the Rough Riders. Read more about the Fourth Contingent on

Fifth Contingent

Departed: 31 March 1900 from Wellington and Lyttelton
Total strength: 591 (including 71 reserves)

Originally the Fifth Contingent was raised in response to a British request for 500 mounted troops who would be able to serve with already established British units. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Newall, the contingent was divided into five companies. No. 11 and No. 14 embarked from Wellington aboard the SS Maori, with No. 12 and No. 13 on the SS Waitemata. No. 15 Company sailed with the Fourth Contingent from Lyttelton. Read more about the Fifth Contingent on

Sixth Contingent

Departed: 30 January 1901 from Auckland
Total strength: 602 (including 24 reinforcements)

The Sixth Contingent was established in December 1900 to replace the First Contingent, which had returned to New Zealand. Service in the Sixth was restricted to men who were in the Volunteer Force or had prior military experience. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Banks, the Sixth embarked aboard the SS Cornwall. Read more about the Sixth Contingent on

Seventh Contingent

Departed: 6 April 1901 from Wellington
Total strength: 667 (including 73 details)

When the Fourth Contingent had completed 10 months’ service the government decided to raise another contingent to replace it. The Seventh began its training at Newtown Park in Wellington in February and departed on 6 April 1901. Due to the inadequate size of the transport ship the contingent was unable to take its own horses. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Porter, the Seventh departed from Wellington aboard the SS Gulf of Taranto. Read more about the Seventh Contingent on

Eighth Contingent

Departed: 1 February 1902 from Auckland; 8 February 1902 from Lyttelton
Total strength: 1120 (including 109 reinforcements)

The Eighth Contingent was formed in response to British requests for another contingent. Unlike other contingents, men were not required to be members of the Volunteer Force. More than 4000 men applied to join the contingent, but only 1000 were selected. Divided into North Island and South Island regiments, the Eighth was commanded by Colonel Richard Davies. The North Island Regiment departed from Auckland aboard the SS Surrey while the South Island Regiment left from Lyttelton on the SS Cornwall. Both ships arrived in Durban on 15 March 1902.

On 12 April 1902, 16 members of the contingent were killed when their train derailed at Machavie (Machavierug) near Potchefstroom in Transvaal. Read more about the Eighth Contingent on

Ninth Contingent

Departed: 12 March 1902 from Port Chalmers; 20 March 1902 from Auckland
Total strength: 1071 (including 15 reinforcements)

Formed in March 1902, the Ninth Contingent was made up of men who had not been accepted into the Eighth. It was divided into two regiments: the South Island Regiment sailed from Port Chalmers aboard the SS Kent, while the North Island Regiment sailed from Auckland on the SS Devon. One of its members, Lieutenant Robert McKeich, was the last New Zealander to be killed in combat after being shot during a confrontation with three Boers four days after the official surrender. Read more about the Ninth Contingent on

Tenth Contingent

Departed: 14 April 1902 from Wellington; 19 April 1902 from Lyttelton
Total strength: 1251 (including 233 reinforcements)

The Tenth Contingent was formed as a response to the defeat suffered by British forces at Tweebosch on 7 March 1902. It was divided into two regiments: the North Island Regiment departed from Wellington aboard the SS Drayton Grange, while the South Island Regiment left Lyttelton on the SS Norfolk. Both regiments arrived in South Africa in late May, and they were at Newcastle in Natal when the war ended on 31 May. Read more about the Tenth Contingent on

For more detailed information about the New Zealand contingents, see - New Zealand Units

How to cite this page

The contingents, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated