United States planned to invade New Zealand

, posted: 19-Jul-2006 12:36

USS Connecticut in the Atlantic, 1907
Normally, I don't bother reading the freebie local newspapers that clog up my letterbox, but I did a double-take at the frontpage of today's North Shore Times. The headline reads:

America's plan to invade NZ

The story is a well-written piece by Edward Gay who talked to military historian Peter Corbett who in turn dug up a document declassifed in the US in 1972, called the Naval War Plan for the Attack of Auckland, New Zealand. You can read the first part online on Stuff.

In 1908, the United States was on collision course with Imperial Japan, then allied through a treaty with Great Britain. There was likelihood of war betwen the US and Japan and Great Britain would've been forced to side with Japan, ironically enough.

The Americans realised the importance of having bases in New Zealand and Australia in case of war and drew up plans to invade both countries, Corbett says.

As a demonstration of US naval power, president Theodore Roosevelt sent out The Great White Fleet, four squadrons of battleships, on a journey around the world. The sixteen ships visited Auckland in 1908 and the NST has a photograph of the fleet going past Devonport on the North Shore.

During the visit, US naval officers took the opportunity to reconnoitre the city in detail and produced the 62-page attack plan. It suggested attacking via the Manukau Harbour rather than Auckland Harbour, which at the time had coastal artillery protecting it.

New Zealand was the stepping stone for an invasion of Australia, apparently.

At the time, New Zealand too was allied with Japan, the article says. The ships that took New Zealand soldiers to Gallipoli were escorted by Japanese warships.

How things have changed - or have they? I suppose we're lucky not to have lots of oil in New Zealand.

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