The New Zealand Armoured Corps was formed on 1 January 1942 and was granted the prefix "Royal" on 12 July 1947. The Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps is second in seniority of Corps within the New Zealand Army. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is Captain-General of the RNZAC.
Whilst the Corps was formed only in 1942 it is the current day successor to the early Mounted Rifles units raised to meet threats during the Maori Wars of the 1860s. The first such unit was the Royal Cavalry Volunteers raised in Auckland on 5 April 1860. This unit together with a number formed by other groups of early settlers took an active part in the wars.
In 1895 the role of the cavalry was changed to that of Mounted Rifles. Subsequently all Regiments were represented at the Boer War 1899-1902.
First World War
During the First World War the NZ Mounted Rifle Brigade (Auckland Mounted Rifles, Wellington Mounted Rifles and Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiments) and the Otago Mounted Rifles fought in Egypt and Gallipoli in 1915 with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps as dismounted troops and later as mounted troops in Palestine.
Second World War
In the Second World War the Mounted Rifles were mobilised for home defence and converted to Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiments on the formation of the New Zealand Armouted Corps on 1 January 1942. These regiments remained within New Zealand for local defence. In September 1941, the 1st NZ Army Tank Brigde was raised and trained at Waiouru with the object of serving in the Middle East. However, due to manpower shortages this formation was disbanded in 1942 and its members used to reinforce the Armoured Brigade which had been raised in the 2nd NZEF. A small number were however reorganised as the 3rd Division Tank Squardron and moved to the Pacific in August 1943. They served with the 3rd NZ Division until August 1944, and saw action on Green Island in the Solomons Group.
In October 1942, 4th NZ Armoured Brigade was formed from 4th Infantry Brigade within the 2nd NZEF in the Middle East and the 18th, 19th and 20th Infantry Battalions were converted to Armoured Regiments. This Brigade played a distinguished part in the fighting in Italy from November 1943 to the end of the war and eventually was disbanded in November 1945.
The Divisional Cavalry was raised as an armoured reconnaissance unit at the beginning of the Second World War and fought throughout it with 2nd NZEF.
The current organisation of the RNZAC is as follows:
Queen Alexandra's (Waikato/Wellington East Coast) Squadron - a combat brigade unit located at Waiouru and organised as a cavalry squadron. Its Territorial element is drawn from the Waikato and Hastings area.
1 Squadron, NZ Scots - a combat brigade unit located at Burnham with a Regular Force element at Waiouru. It is organised as an APC Squadron.
2 Squadron, NZ Scots - a reserve brigade unit located at Dunedin, it has cavalry and APC elements.
School of Armour - located at Waiouru.
The alliance between the Royal Tank Regiment and the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps was promulgated in British Army Order No 21 of 1966.
As a mark of esteem and in recognition of the alliance, the Colonel-in-Chief's approval was given in January 1967 for members of RNZAC to wear the tank arm badge.
On 5 July 1978 the Colonels Commandant were pleased to approve the wearing of the regimental tie by members of RNZAC.