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Recruitment poster, World War II

Poster, 'Volunteer For National Service'
Poster, 'Volunteer For National Service' Late 1940, E. V. Paul, Government Printer, Wellington. Gift of Mr C H Andrews, 1967. Te Papa

Early in World War II, government posters like this entreated New Zealand civilians to support the war effort. People not in the armed forces were encouraged to give their time and money.

Home front defences

In 1942, the government introduced new requirements. If you weren't in the forces, and you were an able-bodied man aged between 16 and 66, you had to join the Emergency Defence Corps. If you were aged between 35 and 50, you had to join the Home Guard.

The Home Guard patrolled isolated coastlines, ready to oppose the enemy. Uniforms and weapons were in short supply – a sore point with members. Some enthusiastic units used poles or wooden guns for practice.

Men and women could be members of the Emergency Precautions Scheme, which was the equivalent of Civil Defence today. The scheme was established before the war, in 1935, and its job was to respond to enemy attacks and natural disasters. Air raids, gas attacks, fires, and earthquakes were its main concerns.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.