Although the art of fencing has a long and fascinating history, the rules of modern fencing were not drafted until 1896 when the sport appeared on the venue at the first Olympic Games. In 1913 the first world governing body, the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime, was set up in Paris where the first European championship was held.
Fencing was introduced into New Zealand in 1916 when Major T. Brown, of the Indian Army, gave tuition to a class of New Zealand Territorial officers in Auckland. The first clubs were formed at Otago and Canterbury Universities during the 1920s, and these were followed by the Christchurch Swords Club, one in Invercargill, and several in Wellington. In 1934 members of the Auckland Operatic Society formed the Auckland Swords Club, and soon afterwards, similar clubs took shape at Thames, Tauranga, Timaru, and Nelson. The New Zealand Amateur Fencing Association, which controls the sport in this country, was formed at Christchurch in 1937. It is affiliated with the Fédération Internationale and the Olympic and British Empire Games Association. In 1938 the first national championships were held. They continued in the following year, remained in abeyance during the war years, and were resumed in 1946. Since 1938 New Zealand championships have been contested in the following events: foil, pe, and sabre – for men; and foil for women. In 1960 a men's Master-at-Arms Trophy was instituted.