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


The National Army Museum is very grateful for the work of an enthusiastic group of volunteers who regularly make the trip to Waiouru to assist with the restoration, repair, maintenance and ongoing preservation of our military equipment collection.

The Museum has 4 storage sheds in the Waiouru Army Base which are home to around 85 historic military vehicles in differing states of repair. Amongst the collection are: the 24-tonne M41 Walker Bulldog tank, the Centurion and Valentine tanks (the latter still in WWII Pacific theatre camouflage), a 1941 Canadian Pattern Chevrolet gun tractor, an MB Jeep in its 1942 Long Range Desert Group colours, an M113A1 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) painted in UN colours and of the type used in Bosnia, a 1943 Ford F30 truck, and an M816 recovery wrecker truck made by American Motor Corporation in 1969.

George Pycraft, Assistant Curator of Technology says, “Our aim is to maintain our New Zealand army heritage vehicles for posterity. The vehicles are museum artefacts, and have to be preserved as closely as possible to the condition and appearance they would have had when in service.

Recent Military Equipment Restoration Projects

Heavy Workshop RL Bedford

The volunteers have taken on the major project of restoring an old neglected Heavy Workshop RL Bedford. This vehicle has not run for some 10 years and unfortunately has been in the weather for much of that time.

Volunteer Roy Robinson explains the project and some of the technical aspects of the vehicle.

Apart from the usual plugs, points and carb clean, the cab required serious surgery to remove rust. It seemed easier to remove the cab and swap it for another from a donor vehicle. One of the team was sent to the library for a service manual, however it was a Bedford manual only and did not cover the ancillaries. Not to be daunted by this an inspection revealed that whilst the workshop cabin had to be removed because of an overhang of the cab it was split half way up the posts.

Read here for the full story and an explanation of the set-up of this Heavy Workshop.

Diamond T Truck

Diamond T Truck

Thanks to the hard work of a group of volunteers, the National Army Museum’s Diamond T Truck may soon be operational after almost 20 years.

The Diamond T Model 969A Wrecker truck is a 1940s model made by Kenworth. Volunteers Paul Lelieveld, Lee Clark and Allan Van Den Heuvel have been working hard rebuilding its engine.

These 4 tonne 6 X 6 series of Diamond T trucks were designed for the US Army in World War II. Many were allocated to the British and Allied Forces, especially in the Middle East, and Mediterranean areas of operations, and were used long after the war.

Volunteers Work On the Diamond T TruckThe Diamond T is powered by a Hercules RXC 6 cylinder engine.

Length:                7.39m
Width:                  2.51m
Height:                 2.94m
Weight:                9842.95kg
Lift capacity:        10 tonne
Winch capacity:    15 lbs

Prior to beginning work on the Diamond T, this group of volunteers recently finished the re-wiring of the Army Museum’s Valentine tank which now has all the running, headlights and engine warning gauges and dash lights working. It only needs the turret motor to be repaired to be fully operational.

M41 Walker Bulldog Light Tank

M41 Walker Bulldog Tank Restoration

The Hunter family have spent over two years on the restoration of the National Army Museum’s M41 Walker Bulldog tank.

This has involved painstaking hours of cataloguing over 50 boxes of spare parts onto a database with accompanying photos, and more recently installing new rings, bearings and gaskets, repairing and replacing cylinders and valves, polishing and testing the crank shaft, replacing cracked conrods, and painting the engine.

Collectively the Hunter family has a wealth of knowledge and experience – Dad Sam is a mechanic, son Scott an electronics engineer, other son Craig a glazier and general jack of all trades, and Mum Judy is the ‘boss’ travelling and staying with the family over the weekend when they are working at the Army Museum.

Learn more about the M41 Walker Bulldog Tank.

1916 German Light Field Howitzer Restoration

German Light Field 105mm Howitzer

In August 1918 the New Zealand Division formed part of the British Army that was pushing the Germans out of Northern France and Belgium. During the New Zealand attack on the town of Bapaume the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade captured a Battery of German Model 1916 105mm Light Field Howitzers (LFH 16). One of these guns was returned to New Zealand after the war as a ‘Trophy’ and sat for many years in a council park. These guns, like many of the late war German designs, were assembled from many small parts that were then riveted together. This made them easy to produce, but it also made them quick to rust if not well looked after.

1916 German Howitzer Restoration

In 1997 the Howitzer was donated to the Museum – in a sad but typical state. The front seats, brakes and other small parts had gone, the wheels had begun to rot and the guns carriage was held together with wire and automotive body filler. After approaches to a number of heavy engineering firms it was Napier Engineering and Contracting Limited who were prepared to undertake the major restoration work required. In 2003 the Howitzer was delivered to Napier Engineering – with photographs, drawings and pictures that showed the missing parts. The wheels were removed and returned to the Museum for separate restoration.

After hundreds of hours of painstaking research, measuring, cutting and forming the gun had been restored to a condition that made it suitable for display. Minor work was continued at the Museum and the gun was repainted to its wartime finish.

1953 Series I Land Rover Restoration

Series 1 Land Rover in Malaya/Borneo

In one of the Army Museum’s current military vehicle restoration projects, a dedicated group from the Rotorua Land Rover Enthusiast Club have taken on the restoration of a 1953 Series 1 Land Rover, thanks to the kind donation of a matching 1953 motor by Trevor Collins of Tauranga. This is an 80 inch short wheel base Land Rover with F Head motor, intake valve and side exhaust valve.

This is the second Land Rover of this kind the group have successfully restored, the other being similar to those used by the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) in Malaya and Borneo. The volunteers Mel Street, Lee Clark, Paul Lelieveld, Brent Robinson, Holly Clark, George Pycraft, Dave Clark and Rod Edwards refurbished the vehicle to its original state with the help of archival photos.

Series I Land Rover Restoration Team

The volunteers also regularly work on the general ongoing maintenance and repair of other military vehicles within the National Army Museum’s military hardware collection, ensuring as many are in working, running order as is possible.

Military Equipment Restoration Volunteers

The National Army Museum wishes to thank all of our volunteers for their ongoing support in the restoration and preservation of our military equipment collection.

The volunteers also regularly work on the general ongoing maintenance and repair of other military vehicles within the National Army Museum’s military hardware collection, ensuring as many are in working, running order as is possible.

Check out more of our army equipment collection including scout vehicles, tanks, trucks and field guns.

Military equipment restoration undertaken by dedicated volunteers at The National Army Museum.