Alf's Imperial Army

Alf's Imperial Army, founded in 1972,[1] by Ian Brackenbury Channell (who was later appointed Wizard of New Zealand) is New Zealand's longest-running and largest pacifist warfare organisation. Organised loosely along military lines, it has Regiments in several New Zealand towns and cities. As a self declared "army" it exists to do "battle" using strictly non-harmful weapons, following the rules and conventions of the pastime known as "pacifist warfare". Alf's have held many highly publicised battles against a wide range of New Zealand organisations and community groups.

Pacifist WarfareEdit

Alf's Imperial Army is a proponent of "pacifist warfare" and fights its battles using strictly non-harmful weapons, such as newspaper swords and cardboard shields for personal duelling. 'Mass effect' weapons such as water bombs, flour bombs, porridge bombs, funnelators (huge slingshots), and meths mortars armed with soft or rotten fruit are also used (though water or flour bombs are the most common). 'Psychological Weapons' such as the dreaded Can-Can charge, heavy duty assault poetry, mass singing and vicious taunting are also permissible.

Aside from being a soldier, participants in a pacifist battle (usually organised into "armies") may have roles such as scout, magician, witch, official scribe, photographer, or whatever other roles may be called for by the mythos of a particular group or particular battle. The most indispensable role however is that of nurses/medics/surgeons who bring the "dead" back to life by dispensing "medicine" (often candy) or "elixirs" (usually port wine, but may be simply water).

Battles usually take place in public places and are intended as a kind of theatrical event that is fun for the participants and exciting and funny for the audience. As such, there is no fixed way of determining who won a pacifist battle, and often two sides may agree to disagree so as to have an excuse to have another battle. Often who "won" may depend upon who tells the best story afterward, who writes the best history afterward, who the audience best remembers afterward, or sometimes the entire story and organisation of the battle may have been pre-scripted beforehand.

Alf's Imperial Army march to battle the Green Party in October 2000.
Green Party Forces march to battle Alf's in October 2000.

Pacifist Warfare is not a form of historical re-enactment. The armies' uniforms and weapons are not historically accurate, nor are battles any attempt to re-enact any past event.

Pacifist Warfare originated before Live Roleplaying. Participants in a pacifist battle are not playing a particular character, rather they are playing a role in a performance. They also do not have hit-points.


Alf's Imperial Army, along with the concept of pacifist warfare, was created by The Wizard of New Zealand in 1972 at the University of Melbourne in Australia.[1] Pacifist warfare was brought to New Zealand in 1973 when Colonel Catford, a follower of the Wizard, moved to New Zealand and founded The 1st Canterbury Crusaders Regiment (later renamed the 1st Canterbury Light Infantry) in Christchurch and organised the first pacifist battle at the city's University of Canterbury. Colonel Catford later moved to Wellington and took the name 'Duke of Wellington', which title was confirmed by mayor Michael Fowler in 1981. Colonel Catford died in November 2014 after a long battle with cancer.

By late 2011 the Army had reduced its public engagements and based its activities largely off-campuses. Active regiments are still present in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Oamaru and Wellington, with detachments in Dunedin and Tākaka. The Wizard of New Zealand still performs the role of Generalissimo of Alf's Imperial Army, and is its Supreme Commander.

Mythos and activitiesEdit

The mythos and uniform of Alf's Imperial Army is of 19th century Victorian British soldiers.[2] The Army therefore is strongly monarchist[3] and does battle in the name of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of New Zealand. Their costumes closely resemble the uniforms of the British Army, in particular the redcoats circa 1881.

Being monarchist, Alf's Imperial Army often battles groups of self-proclaimed Republicans. One example is The Battle for Oamaru, which took place in October 2000, when the Army fought against about 40 New Zealand Green Party members calling themselves "Green Republicans" who assembled in Oamaru under Field Marshal Keith Locke, their Commander in Chief. According to the Greens, all those on the Alf side "committed suicide".[4]

Alf's Imperial Army has battled against many different groups,[1] including political parties,[5][6] the NZ Police,[5] student clubs[7] and student hostels,[8] The Outward Bound organisation,[9] community organisations,[10][11] Sea Cadets,[12] schools,[13] TV stations, nudists,[14] and other pacifist warfare groups.[15][16] One of their major rivals was the McGillicuddy Highland Army.[17] On 31 December 2007 Alf's Imperial Army won a victory in a battle in Oamaru against the Clan McGillicuddy and their "Martian" allies.[18]

Since the inception of Alf's Imperial Army, other similar pacifist warfare groups—many of them unaffiliated to Alf's—have been established around New Zealand, including the McGillicuddy Highland Army, the Waitati Militia, and the Czarist Russian influenced First Lindskii Regiment.


Below is a list of Alf's Imperial Army regiments; those still active are bolded.

Regiment City Year Founded Notes
0th Melbourne Regt Melbourne 1972 The 0th number was given later.
1st Canterbury Light Infantry Christchurch 1973 Rarely active. The regiment has a 'B Company' in Tākaka.
2nd Duke of Wellington's Own (Boots) Regt Wellington 1975 Disbanded in 1999, Reformed as a "Messing" Regiment 2006, active again
3rd New Edinburgh Highland Regt Dunedin 1977 formed in the late 1970s and reformed in 1981 when the Scottish themed originals became the Highland Co, and the Arrows Musical Appreciation and Drinking Society under Alan (Algy) Larsen became the Grenadier Co. Larsen is credited with bringing formal uniform to Alfs Army. The 3rd Regt is no longer active.
The Auckland Regiment Auckland 1979 Never formally numbered, disbanded.
The Hawke's Bay Militia Hawke's Bay 1979 Never formally numbered, no longer active
4th Lady Massey's Volunteers Palmerston North 1980 no longer active
5th Waikato Cavalry Hamilton 1980 Disbanded 1982
5th Waikato Dragoons Hamilton 1985 Actively battling every 4–5 weeks
6th Irish Light Infantry Gisborne 1986 no longer active
7th Cargill Dragoons Invercargill 1987 Left Alf's Army
7th Whitestone Grenadiers Oamaru 1988 Inactive for a time. Re-established as 8th Rgt.
8th Bombay Grenadiers Auckland 1988 no longer active
10th Auckland Grenadiers Auckland 1989 Merged with 8th Bombay Grenadiers
10th Podian Phoenix Regt London, England 1990 no longer active
12th New Plymouth Regt of Foot New Plymouth 1991 no longer active
16th Wellington Wegiment Wellington 2004
KNUTS Artillery Regiment Christchurch 2008
17th Cotswold Volunteers Auckland 2011


  1. ^ a b c "Origins of Alf's Imperial Army – Wizard of New Zealand". Archived from the original on 19 May 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2005.
  2. ^ "ALF's Imperial Army: Style and Structure". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2007.
  3. ^ "ALF's Imperial Army: Introduction". Archived from the original on 31 August 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2005.
  4. ^ "The Battle for Oamaru". 7 October 2000. Archived from the original on 16 August 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b Origins of Alf's Imperial Army – Wizard of New Zealand
  6. ^ "Time Marches On" Christchurch Press 25 August 2003
  7. ^ "Mock Battle" Chaff 27 July 1988
  8. ^ "Annual Pacifist Warfare" Otago Daily Times 10 May 2007
  9. ^ "Wizcorp Eyes Cosmic School" Evening Post (Wellington) October 1987
  10. ^ "Army Gathers in Defence of Naseby" Otago Daily Times 28 April 2003
  11. ^ "Coast Prepares for War" Daily News (Taranaki) 7 March 1990
  12. ^ "Humour Wins in Battle of Pacifists" Waikato Times 20 May 2002
  13. ^ "Paper-cut and Thrust of War" Nelson Mail 17 October 2007
  14. ^ "Zany Holiday Capers at Mapua" Christchurch Star 27 December 1988
  15. ^ "Militia Battle Imperial Army" Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune 23 October 1989
  16. ^ "Mock Battle Display of Flour Power" Nelson Mail 4 November 2002
  17. ^ "Angry Clan Wages War on Alf's Army" Evening Post (Wellington)3 June 1988
  18. ^ "Alf's beat Martians in Battle" Otago Daily Times Wednesday 2 January 2008 Page 15

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