| Early NZ Defence| Boer War Service| 1909 Defence Act|
| World War I  | 1919-1939 | World War II | 1946-1964 | 1973-1995|
| Present Organisation | Traditions|

Early NZ Defence

The early defence of New Zealand was provided for by regular troops of the British Army. These troops included artillery, and our close association with the Royal Artillery (RA) dates from 1845. Several RA units served in New Zealand during the Maori Land Wars, and this link is remembered to this day by the 'New Zealand' honour title held by 94(NZ) Bty, RA.

In order to understand the origins of the RNZA it is necessary to study the formation of the New Zealand Artillery Volunteers, the New Zealand Naval and Garrison Artillery Volunteers, and the New Zealand Permanent Militias.

Records indicate that an attempt was made to form a volunteer artillery company in Auckland in 1858, but that this failed because of a lack of guns. The first recorded unit with guns was the Nelson Naval Artillery Volunteers, formed and disbanded in 1862. The generally accepted formation date of the first batteries of the New Zealand Artillery Volunteers was 1864, when batteries with a maximum establishment of one captain, two subalterns and 25 other ranks were raised. These batteries were eventually lettered from 'A' to 'O'. In December 1878 the New Zealand Regiment of Artillery Volunteers was formed, comprising A to K Batteries, and later included L to O Batteries as follows:

Battery Location Date of Acceptance Battery Location Date of Acceptance

































Cook County


 Port Chalmers











Apart from the Nelson Naval Artillery Volunteers mentioned in para 3, a number of mainly short-lived Naval and Coastguard units served during the Maori Land Wars. It was not until the Russian scares of the1880s that these units, known as "Navals", were organised into a corps. It should be noted that although these units initially dressed nautically, operated cutters and took instruction in rowing, etc. they were really coastal defence units, under army command and trained to operate coastal defence guns. This was because in those days there was no New Zealand Navy command; all NZ ships were part of the British Royal Navy. The Naval Artillery Volunteers former a Corps in 1885, and in 1902 this Corps became the Regiment of New Zealand Garrison Artillery Volunteers (NZGA). The NZGA in 1902 comprised


Company Location Date of Acceptance Company Location Date of Acceptance







  Port Chalmers
























The New Zealand Permanent Militia was formed in 1886 from the Field Force portion of the New Zealand Armed Constabulary, and comprised:h

a.. an Artillery Corps of four garrison artillery batteries each of 30 men, one in each Auckland, Wellington, Lyttleton and Dunedin. The Artillery Corps was renamed No 1 Service Company of the Permanent Force in 1897;

b. a Torpedo Corps (Submarine Miners) of 50 men; and

c. an Engineer Corps of 20 men.

In 1888 the Engineer and Torpedo Corps were amalgamated with the Artillery Corps. In 1902 No 1 Service Coy was renamed the Royal New Zealand Artillery, and in 1911 the Field Branch section of the RNZA was formed. The volunteer elements were called the New Zealand Artillery (NZA) and comprised field artillery (NZFA), the old New Zealand Artillery Volunteers, and Garrison (coastal) Artillery (NZGA), formed from the old Naval and Garrison Artillery Volunteers.

Boer War Service

The volunteer troops that went from New Zealand to the Boer War included some artillery elements. An unnumbered Hotchkiss battery accompanied the 2nd Contingent NZ Mounted Rifles to South Africa, and thus became the first NZA element to serve overseas on active service. The battery saw little service as their guns were found to be too heavy for the horses to pull; a factor that saw the Battery being quickly disbanded. In mid 1900 the 1st NZ Battery of the 2nd Brigade Rhodesian Field Force was formed from No 11 (Auckland) Coy of the 5th Contingent NZ Mounted Rifles, and this battery saw active service in the closing stages of the war.

1909 Defence Act

The 1909 Defence Act abolished the Volunteers and created the Territorial Force, introducing universal military training at the same time. In 1911 the country was divided into four military districts, with a NZFA brigade of two batteries per district plus one mountain battery (D Bty - Wellington), extra. These were:

Auckland FA Bde

Wellington FA Bde

Canterbury FA Bde

Otago FA Bde

D Bty

A Bty (Auckland) F Bty (Napier) E Bty (Christchurch) B Bty (Dunedin) Wellington
G Bty (Hamilton) J Bty (Palmerston North) H Bty (Nelson) C Bty (Invercargill)

The NZGA was similarly organised into four Divisions as follows :

Auckland : No 1, 8 and 9 Coys

Wellington : No 4 and 6 Coys

Lyttleton : No 5 and 7 Coys

Dunedin : No 2 and 3 Coys

World War I

When New Zealand Forces seized German Samoa on 29 Aug 1914 D Bty NZFA, with two 15 pounders and two Nordenfeldt guns, became the first and only NZ Territorial Force battery to serve as a complete unit outside of New Zealand.

In the main body of the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force to the Middle East in 1914 was a NZFA Brigade (what we would now call a Regiment) of three batteries (1, 2 and 3) each of four 18 pounders and a Brigade Ammunition Column. A fourth battery (4 How Bty, of four 4.5 in howitzers) sailed with the 2nd Reinforcements. This Bty became the first NZ battery to land at Gallipoli, early morning on 26 April 1915. These batteries were formed under Expeditionary Force regulations and although they comprised many gunners from the NZFA and NZGA batteries, no complete TF batteries served in the Middle East, or later in France. In February 1916 the NZ Division was formed with a NZFA of four brigades (regiments), and this Division served in France for the remainder of the war. For further information read:"New Zealand Artillery 1914-1918" by J. Byrne.


There were several reorganisations during the period between World Wars I and II. Key points of history are:

a. 1919. The RNZA entered into alliance with the RA.

b. 1921. The NZ Military Districts were reduced to three with the NZA being formed into three brigades (twelve batteries) of field artillery, one brigade (four batteries) of medium artillery, two coast batteries and two light pack batteries. This reorganisation also saw the end of the old alphabetically lettered batteries and the introduction of numbered batteries.

c. 1925. The rank of Corporal was changed to Bombardier.

d. 1936. The first anti-aircraft batteries were formed.

e. 1937. The first experiments with mechanical haulage of field guns took place.

World War II

For comprehensive accounts of New Zealand gunners during the Second World War a study of the following books is recommended:

a. NZ Divisional Artillery : W.E. Murphy

b. 2 NZEFIP - The Gunners : Various, Editor

c. New Zealand in the Pacific : B.M. Brown

d. 3 Field Regiment NZA during WWII : 2Lt S.D. Newman RNZA

New Zealand Gunners served with distinction in England, North Africa, Greece, Crete, Italy and the Pacific throughout the Second World War. Units serving overseas were:

2 New Zealand Division (Middle East)


4, 5, 6 Fd Regts

7 Anti-tank Regt

14 LAA Regt

36 NZ Svy Bty

3 New Zealand Division (Pacific)


17 Fd Regt

28 HAA Regt

29 LAA Regt

33 Hy Regt

114 Independent Lt Bty

53, 54 Anti-Tank Btys


The Territorial Force (NZA) was reactivated in 1948 and in pursuit of the 'one Army' concept was amalgamated with the Regular Force Artillery in the following year. During most of this period the RNZA order of battle was:

RNZA Directorate, Army HQ

School of Artillery, the Army Schools

HQRA, NZ Division

1 Fd Regt RNZA (Auckland)

2 Fd Regt RNZA (Palmerston North)

3 Fd Regt RNZA (Dunedin)

4 Mdm Regt RNZA (Hamilton)

5 Lt Regt RNZA (Wellington)

6 LAA Regt RNZA (Auckland)

          9, 10, 11 Coast Regts. RNZA (Auckland, Wellington).

12 HAA Regt, RNZA (Auckland, Btys at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch)

1 Loc Bty, RNZA (Auckland)


16 Fd Regt, RNZA was raised in 1950 as part of a United Nations emergency force for Korea, and served from 1951-1954 in that theatre. This unit has several 'firsts' to its credit - the first RNZA unit to serve overseas carrying the title "Royal New Zealand Artillery" into battle. The Regiment was disbanded at the end of the emergency but reactivated in 1958 as part of the Regular Force Brigade Group. As such it was the first Regular Force regiment in the Army.

In 1953 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second graciously accepted the appointment of Captain General of the RNZA and in 1958 the Regiment was redesignated the "Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery". Short title RNZA.

In March 1964 the New Zealand Army was reorganised into a more integrated Regular/Territorial Force formation. The RNZA order of battle was then fixed as:

RNZA Directorate, Army HQ

The School of Artillery, the Army Schools

'A' Bty, Territorial Force Depot, Army Training Gp, Waiouru

16 Fd Regt RNZA

4 Mdm Bty, RNZA

1 LAA Bty, RNZA (not raised)

1 Loc Tp, which later became part of 16 Fd Regt

3 Fd Regt RNZA

9, 10, 11 Coast Regt Cadres, RNZA (Disbanded later)


In July 1965 the Regular Force battery of 16 Field Regiment, 161 Battery, was deployed to South Vietnam where initially it was under the operational command of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, US Army, based at BIEN HOA. Later the battery moved to NUI DAT and the 1st Australian Task Force, when that formation arrived in-country in 1966. The Battery supported all the various allied forces in South Vietnam except for the Koreans and fired its 225,000th round during March 1971.

In 1971 the titles of 11, 22, 31, 32 Field and 4 Medium Batteries were changed to reflect the historical association of these batteries in particular and the RNZA in general. The batteries are now titled:

11 (A) Bty Auckland

22 (D) Bty Wellington

31 (B) Bty Dunedin

32 (E) Bty Christchurch

4 (G) Mdm Bty Hamilton


In 1977 the Presidential Unit Citation 1st Class was presented to 161 Bty for service during the Vietnam war. This citation is worn by all members of 161 Bty over the right pocket of SDAR and Service Dress.

In 1980 Training Troop relocated from Waiouru to Burnham, and was attached to 3 Fd Regt. Its role was to conduct the initial training of RF and TF Gunners. With the closure of 3 Fd Regt in 1989, Training Troop was amalgamated into HQ Bty 16 Fd Regt.

In 1987 Locating Troop relocated from Waiouru to Papakura with 16 Fd Regt and attached to the establishment of HQ Bty. The Directorate of New Zealand Artillery was disestablished in 1990 in line with NZ Army reorganisations.

The upheavals caused by a series of reorganisations during the 80/90s resulted in the relocation of 16 Fd Regt to Waiouru and the return of 161 Bty from the RRF back under command of 16 Fd Regt. Additionally a second RF gun battery (163 Bty) was formed on 4 December 1993.

Veterans of 161 Bty who served in South Vietnam turned out for a parade in Linton Camp on 15 July 1995 to witness a moving ceremony in which the unit received the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) in recognition of service with the United States 173D Airborne Brigade. The MUC was presented to the unit by the United States Ambassador to New Zealand, Mr Beeman.

Present Organisation

The RNZA now comprises:

a. 16 Fd Regt. An integrated RF/TF unit equipped with the 105mm British Light Gun. It consists of:

    (1) RHQ (RF) Linton.

    (2) HQ Bty (RF) Linton.

    (3) 161 Bty. (RF) Linton.

    (4) 163 Bty. (RF) Waiouru.

    (5) 11 (A) Bty. (TF) Auckland.

    (6) 22(D) Bty. (TF) Wellington.

    (7) 4(G) Medium Bty. (TF) Hamilton.

    (8) 16 Field Regt Wksps. (RF/TF) Waiouru

    (9) 43 AD Bty (Lt) (RF/TF) Linton.

    (10) School of Artillery. (RF ) Waiouru.

b. 3 LFG Artillery Group.

3 LFG Artillery Group consists of the 1 South Island Gun Battery. They remain under technical control of 16 Fd Regt. It currently comprises:

    (1) 32 (E) Bty. (TF) Burnham.

c. The Band of the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery.

The Band of the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery is based in Auckland and administered by 16 Fd Regt. It has a long history, tracing its origins back to 1860, although it was not called the Artillery Band until 1864. It is a Brass Band and TF manned.

d. The School of Artillery.

The School of Artillery is a sub-unit of 16 Fd Regt located in Waiouru. The School of Artillery is responsible for the advanced technical and tactical training of all RNZA officers and soldiers.

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