During the early Colonial period before 1900, a number of irregular units were formed by the Colonial authorities to provide security and policing functions for the disparate regions and towns.
These units were generally known as 'Militias' and consisted of civilian volunteers who 'drilled' or trained on weekends and were available for call-out as a formed body of armed men when needed.
In the years leading up to World War One, the Colonial Forces were re-organized and regulated by the newly formed General Staff in Wellington, and formed into a new body known as the 'Territorial Force' (TF). The Territorial Force was modelled on the British Territorial Army and through it still consisted of civilian volunteers, operated on more standardised training principals than the militias. This consisted of 'one night a week, one weekend a month, two weeks a year.'
World War I
Thanks to the work of men such as Colonel Malone and the British General Godley, New Zealand entered World War One with the ability to place a complete and well equipped force into the field. It was the Territorials who provided the various Battalions for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) as the country had no Regular (full-time) Battalions.
It was from the survivors of these initial contingents, men who had fought their way through the disaster at Gallipoli, that came the experienced Officers and Non Commissioned Officers (Corporals and Sergeants) who subsequently led the New Zealand Division through the bloody fighting of the Western Front and eventually, to the borders of Germany as the Allied armies finally broke the stalemate of trench warfare.
World War II
In 1939 the Territorial Force was again called upon to provide the nucleus of an expanded wartime Army. This was the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF) the bulk of whose Officers and Senior Non Commissioned Officers were from the pre-war Territorials.
Once again, it was the pre-war Territorial Officers and Senior NCOs from which the 2nd NZEF drew its strength, and it was these men who led and commanded the various units of the 2nd New Zealand Division through the initial, bloody setbacks of Greece and Crete, and onward to victory in the Western Desert and the later Italian Campaign.
The end of WWII saw the progressive demobilization and the reorganization of the Army on a peacetime basis. During this period, the Regular and Territorial Forces were integrated to form one New Zealand Army and the Territorials were re-organized into a force of 7,000 men to provide a basis for rapid mobilization in time of war.
A New Era
The Territorial Force continued to train for such a role until the end of the Cold War, and it was not until 1999 and the New Zealand intervention in East Timor, alongside Australia and other UN Sponsored forces, that the Territorial Force found a new role.
Over the six rotations of New Zealand personnel in East Timor some 600 Territorial Force soldiers filled various positions within the Regular Force units, making up shortfalls in personnel and providing specialist capabilities such as Civil and Military Affairs.
Subsequently, Territorial Force soldiers volunteered for other overseas missions, taking time off from their normal civilian employment to serve as part of New Zealand's commitment to regional stability and international peace. Individuals and small groups of Territorials have served alongside their Regular Force counterparts in Bougainville, Bosnia, the Sinai, Lebanon and Afghanistan, while successive units made up primarily of Territorials took over responsibility for New Zealand's commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
From Territorial Force to Army Reserve
The term "Territorial" is an historical one initiated by the Defence Act 1909 and mirrored in the United Kingdom. "Territorial" implied a citizen's defence force intended to defend the territory of New Zealand against invasion. Subsequently the Territorial Forces became the country's mobilisation reserves. Today the role of personnel serving in the "Territorial's", is now more aligned to contributing to current operations abroad. The term "Reserve Forces" more accurately reflects the actual function and role of the Army's Territorial Force. These forces are a Reserve for the Regular Force, demonstrated through our deployments to the Solomons Islands and East Timor.
With the Territorial Force now fulfilling a new and vital role of providing trained volunteers for overseas missions, it was decided to step away from the current name, to one which better reflected the current role of our Reserve soldiers. Thus, the Territorial Force has now been rebranded as Territorial Force - The Army Reserve. The Army Reserve name reflects the role of it's soldiers as Reserves for the Regular Force trained and ready to deploy for periods of full-time service when called upon to serve their country.
Today's Army Reserve now comprises those members of the Territorial Force (TF) of the New Zealand Army as defined by the Defence Act 1990. Individual Territorial FOrce personnel within the Territorial Force are referred to as Reservists or Army Reserves.
Over 300 Army Reserve Soldiers have deployed overseas in the last two years and Army Reserve soldiers are currently active in Afghanistan, East Timor, the Solomon Islands, the Sinai, Lebanon and Korea.