Old US plan to invade NZ revealed
18 July 2006
By EDWARD GAY
The United States planned to invade Auckland almost a century ago if the emerging superpower had gone to war with Japan, then a British ally, a US intelligence document reveals.
The document includes intelligence reports on North Head, Fort Takapuna and Mt Victoria. It recommends the Manukau Harbour as the best invasion point.
The plan involved landing heavy guns on Rangitoto Island to shell forts on the North Shore.
Although the document was declassified by US authorities in 1972, little has been reported up to now. Military historian Peter Corbett has published an article in the February 2002 edition of Forts and Works, a specialist military historian journal.
"To the best of my knowledge it hasn't been reported by the media, probably because they don't know about it," says Mr Corbett, who is convinced of the document's authenticity.
The document - titled: Naval War Plan for the Attack of Auckland, New Zealand - includes information on the water supply, public transport network and climate.
Mr Corbett says the intelligence report was compiled by the US at a time when Great Britain and Japan were allied by a treaty.
The US and Japan had potentially conflictig interests in the Pacific, he says.
"They realised that if it had come to war then they would have had to fight in these regions," he says.
And if the US had gone to war with Japan, Great Britain could have been dragged in on the side of Japan. The ports of New Zealand and Australia would then be important strategic bases, Mr Corbett says.
Intelligence for the report was gathered during the visit of the Great White Fleet to Auckland over six days in August of 1908.
The fleet included 16 state-of-the-art battleships and visited Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Manila and Yokohama during its time in the South East Pacific.
"Basically it was a classic `stick this in your face'. It was a demonstration to the Japanese," he says.
Conservation Department historian and archaeologist David Veart says the document was produced at a time when there was a fear of the "Yellow Peril".
"A conflict in the Pacific between Japan and America was going to happen at some stage.
"The Americans were playing out war game scenarios with the British all over the globe."
Mr Corbett obtained the document from a US military historian after coming across references to the report in other documents.
"I've always been fascinated by warships and I grew up as a boy in Devonport and I suppose it had to get to me in the end," Mr Corbett says.
The American Consulate General's office was contacted to verify the document but said it does not have "any historical expertise in this area".
The North Shore Times has now contacted the Naval Historical Centre and National Archives and Records in the US and is awaiting a reply.