The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), Te Tauaarangi o Aotearoa, celebrates its 85th birthday today.
On 1 April 1937, the Air Force Act took effect, formally recognising air power as a critical element of the country’s security. In the years since then, the Air Force has served in military operations from World War 2 and other significant conflicts through to peacekeeping missions all over the world.
Air Force personnel have been part of almost every New Zealand Defence Force deployment, and other operations, including the delivery of humanitarian aid and providing support to the work of other Government agencies, such as fisheries patrols and support to Antarctica.
The Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark, said that the diversity of operations has been enormous.
“We never know what will crop up next, and that has been defining for us – continuously maintaining and honing our skills, to make us a team that can turn its hand and technology to meet whatever challenge we are called upon to face,” he said.
“The RNZAF story has become interwoven with the story of New Zealand itself. Thousands of Kiwis have served with us over the years. Many of our personnel today are related to people who served before them, and thousands more Kiwis have relatives and friends who served, making the Air Force part of their own life story.
“On this occasion, those of us serving in today’s Air Force, and who are building the Air Force of tomorrow, especially honour all those who have served before us and who made the Air Force what it is today: a Service that all New Zealanders can be proud of.”