Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC

The Colonel Commandant of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was an honorary position allocated to a retired senior officer of the Corps. The RNZAOC Colonel Commandant was not involved in the operational affairs of the Corps but was considered the ‘conscience keeper’ of the Corps and the guardian of regimental traditions. The RNZAOC Colonel Commandant was like a father figure whose primary duty was to foster esprit-de-corps and render advice when required.

The concept of Colonel Commandants in English military tradition dates back to the seventeenth century when members of the aristocracy, who at their own expense raised and equipped regiments for service with the crown, with the owner and head of the regiment as appointed colonel.[1] As the British Army evolved during the early eighteenth century, the arrangement of ‘ownership’ was abolished, and the Colonels lost their positions to Lieutenant Colonels who were selected to lead based on their ability. However, the custom of a regiment having a Colonel (or Colonel Commandant) was maintained, with the Colonel Commandant regarded as the domestic head of the regiment, in which they took a paternal interest.

Approval for the first Colonel Commandant of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps was granted by the British Army Council in 1921, with Major General Sir John Steevens accepting the position.[2]  The RNZAOC followed the RAOC lead and appointed a Colonel Commandant Twenty Eight years later when the New Zealand Army updated the regulations on the appointment of Colonel Commandants, Colonels and Chief and Colonels of Regiments in 1949.[3]

Amendment No. 62 to the Regulations for the New Zealand Military Forces 1927 published in NZ Gazette No 20 of 28 April 1949 detailed that duties and the responsibilities of Colonels Commandant were to:

  • To foster esprit de corps throughout the corps or regiment and to ensure local interest in the corps or regiment by liaison with the civil community
  • To advise Army Headquarters and formation commanders on matters in which he may be consulted
  • To act in an advisory capacity to battalion and equivalent commanders on corps or regimental matters
  • To advise on the administration of corps and regimental funds and other matters, such as customs, memorials, and histories.
  • To maintain close liaison with allied corps and regiments of the British and Dominion Armies.

The RNZAOC appointed its first Colonel Commandant in 1949, with the appointment remaining in place until the disestablishment of the Corps in 1996. Officers who have held the appointment of RNZAOC Colonel Commandant are:[4]

  • Brigadier T J King, CBE                               1 Jan 1949 – 31 Mar 1961[5]
  • Lieutenant Colonel F Reid, OBE                    1 Apr 1961 – 31 Mar 1965
  • Lieutenant Colonel H McK Reid, OBE         1 Apr 1965 – 31 Mar 1969
  • Brigadier A.H Andrews. OBE                      1 Apr 1969 – 30 Sept 1977
  • Lieutenant Colonel J Harvey, MBE             1 Oct 1977 – 31 Mar 1979
  • Lieutenant Colonel GJH Atkinson, MBE      1 Apr 1979 – 31 Mar 1985
  • Lieutenant Colonel CJC Marchant, ED       1 Apr 1985 – 12 July 1992
  • Lieutenant Colonel AJ Campbell                 13 July 1992 – 9 Dec 1996[6]
Brigadier T J King, CBE, RNZAOC Regimental Colonel 1 Jan 1949 – 31 Mar 1961. RNZAOC School
Brigadier A.H Andrews. OBE, RNZAOC Regimental Colonel, 1 Apr 1969 – 30 Sept 1977. RNZAOC School

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] “The Colonel Commandant of the Rnza,”

[2] Joseph S. Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992), 34.

[3] “Regulations for the New Zealand Military Forces 1927, Amendment No. 62,” New Zealand Gazette no. 26 (1949).

[4] Joseph S. Bolton, 34.

[5] “Appointment of Colonel Commandant,” New Zealand Gazette no. 4 (1949).

[6] “Appointment of Colonel Commandant,” New Zealand Gazette no. go5820 (1994).

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