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by Brig (Rtd) G D Birch, MBE

The Directorate RNZA existed in one form or another from 1885 to 1990. It was the office of the senior artillery staff officer serving at Army Headquarters, who was primarily responsible to the Chief of General Staff for all technical and professional matters pertaining to artillery.

Between 1885 and 1914 the officer heading the Directorate was variously known as Staff Officer Artillery, Director of Artillery, Staff Officer Artillery and Inspector of Ordnance Stores & Equipment, Director of Ordnance and/or Inspector of Artillery. From 1914 to 1918 there were simultaneously two Directors, one each covering Garrison and Field Artillery. From 1919 to 1936 the term Director of Artillery was used, and the office bearer was also the Commander RNZA. During this period the NZ Army consisted primarily of the Staff Corps, the Permanent Staff and the RNZA. The term Director was generally used from 1942 to 1990. From 1966 onwards the Director RNZA (DRNZA) was also the Director of the Army Air Corps. This army aviation linkage stemmed from the earlier air observation post (AOP) officer role filled by artillery officers flying light fixed wing aircraft, primarily with an observation and fire control function. When the more widely based army air corps was formed the staff function logically remained with the RNZA Directorate. See a list of officers holding this senior artillery staff appointment.

In its later years the Directorate was headed by a Lt Col Director (the DRNZA), assisted by one or two Major level staff officers (SO2 RNZA) and a WO1 Clerk (WO RNZA). The role of the Directorate was to:

  • Provide advice to the CGS and his staff on all technical and professional matters relating to artillery (and army aviation).
  • Liaise with, and in conjunction with the Military Secretary, plan all regimental officer appointments. In addition the Director maintained a watching brief on the full career development of all his officers, and a fatherly oversight as to their progress.
  • Liaise with, and in conjunction with the Manning Staff, plan all regimental other rank appointments. The WO RNZA was primarily responsible for this role although the Director became involved in the more senior postings. Again the Directorate maintained a watching brief on career development, and a fatherly oversight.
  • Be lead equipment sponsor for surface to surface artillery; air defence artillery; surveillance, target acquisition and night observation (STANO), nuclear, biological and chemical defensive measures (in conjunction with the Chief Engineer), survey equipment (again in conjunction with the Chief Engineer), and army aviation. This was primarily the domain of the SO2 Arty and covered the full life of equipment from gestation in the form of a Staff Target to final disposal. In all the Directorate sponsored around 400 items, ranging from guns and radars to binoculars and command post equipments.
  • Represent the NZ Army at the ABCA (America, Britain, Canada and Australia - and NZ was associated through Australia) standardisation conferences and working groups on Surface to Surface Artillery, Air Defence, STANO and Army Aviation.
  • Conduct regular Corps Conferences to update selected members on matters regimental and professional. These conferences where normally held in conjunction with the School of Artillery, and typically included equipment updates, technical matters and historical studies.
  • In conjunction with the Colonel Commandant manage the domestic affairs of the Regiment, and assist in maintaining its wellbeing. The RNZA was/is the most regimentally aware of the corps of the NZ Army, stemming from its linkage back to the Armed Constabulary and its continued existence dating from the Defence Act of 1886. In addition it inherited the traditions and spirit of the much older Royal Artillery, including its customs, its motto - Ubique, its history and its cap badge. To this was added its purely NZ traditions, customs and history etc. Domestically the Directorate managed the Regiment's property and funds, the RNZA Council, and made representation on such matters as dress embellishments.

On joining the RNZA gunners join much more than just a Regiment. They also join a close family of gunners with links throughout the Commonwealth and the USA. Our history, traditions and customs are shared with this wider family and helps distinguish us from all other corps. Within NZ the Directorate was at the head of the serving family. The Director was normally the senior Regular Force Officer holding a Regimental appointment, and the Director and his staff maintained a fatherly eye on all matters within their jurisdiction, looking to the spirit and well being of the Regiment and the development of its personnel. This closeness and family atmosphere was lost when Army General Staff was downsized in 1989; the equipment function going to Plans and Development Branch, officer appointments becoming completely the responsibility of the Military Secretary, other rank appointments to Manning Branch, and domestic Regimental matters to the Regimental Colonel, (a senior serving gunner, but as a secondary role to his established appointment), in association with the Colonel Commandant. From a RNZA point of view the Directorate's demise was a retrograde step.

Graham Birch, Dec 2003

See the List of Directors

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