Able Archer: New Zealand and the Great Nuclear War of 1983

The concept of World War III and it's effects on New Zealand has keenly interested me for sometime, I have done several infoboxes in a rather limited timeline fashion so I thought I might expand on them as a hobby from now on. While I generally do aim for realism, my main task is essentially just worldbuilding and honing my infobox skills.​
 
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Monarchy of New Zealand Act
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The Monarchy of New Zealand Act is an instrument of government that deals with the role of New Zealand's constitutional monarchy and issues pertaining to governance.
Passed in the aftermath of WWIII in November 1983, it replaced the nominally titular office of Governor General and crowned exiled Queen Elizabeth II as New Zealand's sole legal monarch while affording certain properties and estates for her court. Government House was vacated and became an official royal residence, while also naming Her Majesty as Patron of National Parks and Crown Lands. It also introduced the concept of an executive Royal Prerogative. It gives the Queen executive privilege to issue Royal Warrants ( formerly Seal of New Zealand), impart formal assent for legislation and formally codified the role of Her Majesty in the event her Prime Minister wishes to dissolve parliament. The Prime Minister and his ministers serve at Her Majesty's Pleasure under a Letters Patent pro forma. The Act redefined New Zealand as a Kingdom. The Act provided a new position of Clerk of the Crown as an official head of a New Zealand based Crown Office.​
 
1984 New Zealand General Election
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The 1984 New Zealand general election was held with a backdrop of economic crisis and global collapse. Held nearly one year after World War III, it pitted Robert Muldoon’s embattled National government against a resurgent Labour Party who captured the national mood. Despite reaching an agreement with Social Credit to govern as a majority government, it had withdrawn parliamentary support after Muldoon entertained extraordinary powers to deal with the hyperinflation, unemployment and chronic shortages that plagued New Zealand. An emerging refugee crisis also undermined his popularity.

A seminal issue in 1984, economics, dominated throughout. Petrol prices had more than quadrupled as global supplies dried up thanks to a collapse of the global supply chain, inflation reached 500% in July 1984 and surged again to over 900% a month later, businesses which relied on international trade were severely affected. Muldoon reacted with typical autocratic style, imposing flash wage and price controls and restricting car use to a mere two days per week. A national three day energy week was also imposed. Prices for food, energy, rents, power and other goods were effectively frozen, worsening existing shortages. Fears of crop failures prompted food rationing.

A refugee crisis also dealt another blow. While refugee numbers had remained initially stable and amounted to a little over 250,000 between November 1983 and May 1984, the numbers of people seeking refugee from the nuclear wastelands of Europe and Asia rose significantly. By July, applications increased dramatically and this figure reached 600,000. These ‘boat people’ often evaded customs by making landfall in secluded areas, sometimes terrorising local inhabitants in the search for food and medical supplies. This prompted Muldoon to issue wartime powers which were strongly opposed by Social Credit, who withdrew their parliamentary support. Faced with the prospect of losing both his majority and a deteriorating national scene, Muldoon traveled to Government House and asked the Queen to dissolve parliament for a snap election. The result was never in doubt......
 
Hmm, World War Three starts because of Able Archer instead of the False Alarm Incident. How many nukes were used in this war?
To be completely honest, I had only got a broad idea of what New Zealand would look like after a nuclear exchange. This study from 1987 assumed New Zealand would not be struck in the event of hostilities, so I ran with the concept. Another Sidney Morning Herald article suggests the Soviets never targeted Australian cities (which I find hard to believe) so I can probably safely assume that NZ would be even lower on their priority list.

As for the international situation, the United States and Europe are thoroughly devastated. Going off this map of the contiguous United States anyhow. Though, given the Soviets had nearly 40,000 deliverable warheads (of which around 10,000 had strike capability against the CONUS), I'm sure that additional strikes might be ordered. A provisional government out of the remnants of the federal government is formed, but their power is limited to dispersed military installations or anything that could constitute civil authority in urban areas. A collapse of the food supply and fallout renders aid efforts fruitless for the most part, resulting in internecine war between roving scavengers and civilians. The skeletal remains of the Soviet government also exist, though they are basically confined to Russia proper and outposts further east. China also didn't get off lucky, as did Japan and other American-aligned powers in Asia.

Australia got hit too, but the strikes were largely concentrated on American installations, like Pine Gap - perhaps maybe a coastal city if I felt pessimistic. Essentially making Australia and New Zealand world powers (very low bar when the Northern Hemisphere is a hellscape) this is an Antipodean wank after all ;)
 
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To be completely honest, I had only got a broad idea of what New Zealand would look like after a nuclear exchange. This study from 1987 assumed New Zealand would not be struck in the event of hostilities, so I ran with the concept. Another Sidney Morning Herald article suggests the Soviets never targeted Australian cities (which I find hard to believe) so I can probably safely assume that NZ would be even lower on their priority list.
Australia got hit too, but the strikes were largely concentrated on American installations, like Pine Gap - perhaps maybe a coastal city if I felt pessimistic. Essentially making Australia and New Zealand world powers (very low bar when the Northern Hemisphere is a hellscape) this is an Antipodean wank after all ;)
I find that hard to believe too. I'd think that at least the big five Australian cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) plus Canberra would be nuked. Auckland and Wellington would also be possible targets - The Soviets had 40,000 nukes, they don't have to be picky about who they bomb.
 
I find that hard to believe too. I'd think that at least the big five Australian cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) plus Canberra would be nuked. Auckland and Wellington would also be possible targets - The Soviets had 40,000 nukes, they don't have to be picky about who they bomb.
I might have to deploy slight handwavum here seeing as New Zealand basically gets off scot free, NZ holds an election after all. Which would be impossible after two of our main urban centres are smoldering piles of nuclear rubble.

I think the issue is range and whether the Soviets had the wherewithal to strike us. I think several Australian urban centres probably cop it, as you rightly pointed out. I haven't written anything on Australia (or anything besides these two threadmarks) at all. So this timeline can develop over time.

NZ's nuclear free policy didn't come about until 1985 as well, after the Lange government swept to power the previous year, which means NZ is still firmly camped in the American orbit.
 
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Well, in the Protect and Survive TL, which is set in a similar time period (February of 1984), three of the six Australian cities (Sydney, Perth, and Canberra), get nuked--but so do Auckland and Wellington, as well as a third nuke that was a miss (it was likely bound for Christchurch, is my guess), so don't be too sure about New Zealand/Australia being spared in the event of a nuclear exchange...

On a side note, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Melbourne (and Christchurch) survive--Melbourne becomes the new national capital and one of the world's biggest cities postwar, but not in a way it intended or wanted, IMO...
 
Well, in the Protect and Survive TL, which is set in a similar time period (February of 1984), three of the six Australian cities (Sydney, Perth, and Canberra), get nuked--but so do Auckland and Wellington, as well as a third nuke that was a miss (it was likely bound for Christchurch, is my guess), so don't be too sure about New Zealand/Australia being spared in the event of a nuclear exchange...

On a side note, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Melbourne (and Christchurch) survive--Melbourne becomes the new national capital and one of the world's biggest cities postwar, but not in a way it intended or wanted, IMO...
I think Australia definitely gets hit, the cities you mentioned, but New Zealand avoids being struck. Which I think is a fair middle ground given the timeline.
Half of this timeline is dedicated to world building and the other half is for purely enjoyment purposes, so hopefully some creative liberties can be forgiven :)
 
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Royal New Zealand Navy
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The Royal New Zealand Navy serves as the maritime branch of the New Zealand Defence Forces and currently has 54 ships under commission. Despite not existing as an independent military branch until 1941, New Zealand purchased a battlecruiser in 1909 and the passage of the Naval Defence Act of 1913 formalised an independent New Zealand section of the Royal Navy. The first major action of New Zealand's nascent navy was occupying the then German colony of Samoa, under the aegis of the Royal Navy's China Station. From 1921 to 1941, New Zealand's naval compliment's official title was the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. This force expanded through the 1920's to include five cruisers and eventually saw action in the early stages of WWII, most notably during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939 and during the Mediterranean Campaign. As the war progressed and New Zealand matured as a nation, the NZSRN was detached and renamed the Royal New Zealand Navy.

New Zealand ships also protected New Zealand from long-range German raid attempts and participated in naval operations with the United States in the South Pacific. At the end of the Pacific War, HMNZS Gambia represented New Zealand at the Japanese surrender ceremony. The RNZN would play a major part in the Cold War and, eventually, WWIII, though New Zealand's naval defence strategy largely rested on policing territorial waters than any long-range operations. With the outbreak of World War III on 26 November 1983, New Zealand warships operated closely alongside the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and U.S. Navy to deter a possible Soviet submarine nuclear strike. After the Nuclear Holocaust and widespread devastation in Europe and the United States, many NATO ships sought refuge in New Zealand of which the country could scarcely afford. Many ships were either dismantled or used as target practice while a small fraction remained in service to compliment the RNZN. Many crew members retained their service and joined the RNZN. The Naval Defence Act of 1986 reorganised the navy in light of this fact and afforded Queen Elizabeth the title of Commander-in-Chief while her consort, Prince Philip, was named Lord High Admiral.

As of 2021, the Royal New Zealand Navy is the second largest internationally, behind Brazil, and slightly larger than that of Australia.​
 
In 1983: Doomsday, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney got nuked by the Soviets but New Zealand is one of the few nations to survive. Canberra remained as Australia’s capital as well as capital of the ANZC
 
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It's possible that NZ was targeted but not hit for reasons that may never be known within the TL. An SSBN with targeting orders might be sunk before it can launch the specific missile(s); a missile might fail in-flight; that sort of thing. Handwaving away one or two strikes is a lot easier than handwaving away six or a dozen or whatever, so roll with what suits the story.
 
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