Military flying in New Zealand began in 1923 when two civilian flying schools passed into Government ownership. The New Zealand Permanent Air Force was formed in Jun 1923. A reserve organisation, the New Zealand Air Force (which had no aircraft of its own) was established at the same time. In Feb 1934, these two organisations were merged into the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), but still as part of the Army. On the recommendation of an RAF adviser, Wing Commander R A Cochrane, the RNZAF became an autonomous organisation on 1 Apr 1937. Like many other organisations, a dramatic contraction occurred at the end of WWII in Aug 1945.
Following a major review, replacement of obsolete types was authorised in1962 and by the mid 1960s, the new fleet began to be delivered, together with the first RNZAF helicopters, the Bell 47G Sioux and the UH-1D Huey.
In line with the New Zealand Government's policies of de-regulation and contracting out, budget constraints and the Defence Strategy Review of 1991 initiated a contraction of the service which has continued into the 21st century.