New Zealand’s first overseas war was the South African War, also referred to as the Second Anglo-Boer War or just the Boer War. British officials created the war to gain control of the gold and diamond deposits in Transvaal and Orange Free State.
To support the British Empire, New Zealand felt compelled to fight and sent 6,500 mounted troops to assist the British effort. Virtually every man in New Zealand was desperately keen to get to war so the first troopers to go were selected on the basis of who could afford to go. If you could provide your own horse, rifle and equipment to the tune of approximately £25.00 then you could go to war.
In total, New Zealand sent 10 contingents to South Africa, with the first 2 required to pay their own way. The war was fought from October 1899 to May 1902. It saw the birth of the New Zealand Mounted Rifleman as a tough, uncompromising and resourceful soldier as they fought the equally-tough Boer commandos on the high veldt of South Africa.