National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

New Zealand Cadets Today

In the early 1960’s, success of the School Cadets saw numbers rise to over 55,000 but this success came at a cost, with the Government of the day deciding to disband the Cadets as the organisation was too large to administer. However several groups including the RSA lobbied the Government to retain this popular ‘institution’ and in 1971, through the Defence Act, the New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF) was created and remains strong to this day.

The Defence Act enabled the Cadets to receive assistance from the New Zealand Defence Force (uniforms, training and some equipment) along with community participation (mainly funding).

Emphasis on solely military training was replaced with developing ‘good citizens’ and from 1978, females were integrated into the Cadet Forces. There was however a shift away from schools providing cadet units, with (community) open Cadet Corps Units appearing in the 1980’s.

Today, there is renewed interest in the Cadet Forces by parents and young teenagers for the training provided. The commitment of the local adults who have taken on Cadet Forces commissions and the other unit supporters reinforce this interest.

The Cadet Forces of today is a modern organisation and along with ‘military’ training (foot drill, rifle drill, marching, General Service Knowledge, radio procedure, firearms training, first aid, leadership skills and marksmanship), cadets also focus on adventure-based training (bushcraft, survival training, and citizenship training to name a few). For the Sea Cadets, they also learn seamanship (sailing time, rowing, water safety and regatta participation), while the Air Training Corps benefits from Aviation studies.

All Cadet units are active participants at Anzac Day ceremonies throughout New Zealand and provide personnel for wreath laying, flag duties, cenotaph guards, parades and poppy selling.

The New Zealand Defence Force continues to support the Cadets with instructional and leadership courses which are beneficial for all concerned.

Today, there are over 3000 cadets throughout New Zealand.

For more information on the New Zealand Cadet Forces, go to