Crying shame for the New Zealand army

LIFE has not been easy for New Zealand's tiny army, navy and air force since former prime minister David Lange's anti-nuclear policy provoked the United States into withdrawing all military co-operation. After nearly 40 years of rubbing shoulders with the superpower under the Anzus alliance, the snub left the armed forces feeling isolated.

The inheritors of a fighting tradition that distinguished itself on the slopes of Gallipoli, against German paratroopers in Crete, and in the front ranks at El Alamein are virtually confined to civil defence tasks at home. Yesterday, for instance, the air force was dropping hay to snow-bound sheep on mountain tops.

Embarrassing then for the army to be facing the case of the crying major. Newspapers last week were full of the sad story of a man who cracked when posted to the United Nations force in Angola. A court martial was told that after arriving in Luanda, Major Anthony Queree, 38, a 20-year army veteran, refused to be assigned to a remote, abandoned village which a reconnaissance report said was surrounded by minefields, had no water or food, no habitable buildings and an unusable air strip.

Said to be suffering agoraphobia and upset that he had been posted overseas without his wife, Major Queree broke down in tears and insisted on being sent home. The Major was charged with an act likely to prejudice service discipline or bring discredit on the army by refusing an order. He was acquitted on the grounds that he should not have been sent to Angola in the first place.

The case came as military chiefs anxiously awaited the results of an inquiry into their behaviour during a conflict with Mr Lange at the time of the May 1987 military coup in Fiji. It was revealed recently that after an Air New Zealand aircraft had been hijacked at Fiji's Nadi airport, Mr Lange had ordered an air force plane 'with sufficient military personnel aboard to act as required to protect New Zealand's interests', be dispatched immediately. The order was cancelled an hour before take-off after the lone hijacker was overpowered by a crew member. But it was clear that defence chiefs, fearing a clash with the Fijian forces who had taken over the country, had stalled.

The Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, has ordered an investigation into procedures for committing New Zealand troops to action overseas. But the military's woes don't end there. Defence spending was cut again in this month's budget. The air force is flying 25-year-old transport planes with little hope of getting new ones. And although the navy is to get two new frigates, the Defence Minister, Warren Cooper, recently speculated that it may not be given the additional two ships it says it will need at the turn of the century.

The biggest embarrassment this year, however, has probably been the failure of the army's top snipers to kill a wild dog - which has slaughtered thousands of sheep on a South Island mountain farm - after they were ordered in to save the farmer from bankruptcy. The snipers, using hi-tech night-scopes, spent months tracking the dog. They hid in sheep pens for several days and wrapped wool around their boots to hide their smell. But the dog outwitted them, and the army has now been pulled out.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Corporate Tax Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

Relationship Manager

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

£15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home