About Us

Our Vision

To enrich the lives of present and future generations with an awareness of New Zealand’s naval culture and heritage so that they honour the contribution New Zealand’s Sea Warriors have made to peace, security and prosperity.

Our Mission

To capture and preserve New Zealand’s naval culture and heritage for current and future generations through collection, preservation, presentation, education, research and scholarship.

History of the Navy Museum

The need for a Naval Museum grew with the increasing number of donations to the Navy by families of ex-navalmen during the early 1970s.  In 1974 the Commodore Auckland, J.F. McKenzie, directed the Commanding Officer of HMNZS PHILOMEL to make a surplus room available for use as a Museum and the institution was born.  The Museum was opened to naval personnel for 1 hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays and by arrangement for groups visiting the Naval Base.

The Museum’s policy was to display items of naval interest with the aim of creating and maintaining a permanent record of the history and development of the RNZN.  Advice was sought from the Auckland War Memorial Museum with respect to basic conservation and display techniques.

The Navy Museum at Spring Street

The interior of the Spring Street Navy Museum, 1982 – 2010

By 1981 the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral K.M. Saull, believed there should be a proper museum for the Navy.  A modest building on the edge of the Naval Base was chosen.

The Museum moved to Spring Street and was officially opened by Rear Admiral K.M. Saull on the 5th May 1982.

Almost immediately after the re-opening more room was needed. Public contributions, coupled with some fundraising enabled a modest extension to be built, which was opened in December 1989.

In May 1988 the Trust Board of the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum was established and the role of the Museum was amended to: “To be an educational and recreational facility that presents to the RNZN and the public in general, the naval influence on the history of New Zealand.”

In May 2010, 28 years after it opened, the Navy Museum at Spring Street closed the doors to the public for the final time.  For the next five months, exhibition designers, installers and Navy Museum staff prepared for Open Day at Torpedo Bay, 9th October 2010.

Torpedo Bay Navy Museum

The Second World War gallery at Torpedo Bay

Torpedo Bay, on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour in Devonport, is now the home of the Navy Museum.

Torpedo Bay itself is a site of exceptional significance, having been a key part of Auckland’s early defence system as well as having been continuously occupied by New Zealand military forces since 1880. Torpedo Bay is the most substantial and intact 19th century mining base to survive in New Zealand. Read more about Torpedo Bay history

Having relocated to Torpedo Bay in 2009, the Navy Museum is the newest chapter to the site’s extraordinary heritage, with the original 1896 buildings redeveloped to accommodate the Museum’s exhibitions and visitors.

Inside; in addition to an outstanding café, conference facility and education space, the permanent exhibitions showcase the story of the Navy’s contribution to the development of New Zealand’s identity through the lens of the Navy’s values – commitment, courage and comradeship. Our temporary gallery hosts a variety of programmes and exhibitions not to miss throughout the year.

As New Zealand’s only Navy Museum, the Torpedo Bay facility strongly complements other icons of New Zealand’s military, maritime and social heritage, such as the War Memorial Museum, Voyager Maritime Museum, North Head, Bastion Point and Auckland Art Gallery. Alongside Auckland’s other museums and heritage sites, this creates an unmatched cluster of valuable national historic facilities spanning both sides of the Waitemata Harbour.

The Navy Museum at Torpedo Bay is an important part of our local Devonport community, our regional community as part of the new Auckland City and our national community.

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Board of Trustees

Honorary Captain Mr. Brian Corban, CNZM, QSO, MA (Hons), LLB, FIOD, FNZIM


Honorary Captain Mr. Brian Corban, CNZM, QSO, MA (Hons), LLB, FIOD, FNZIM is Chairman of the Navy Museum Trust Board.

Brian is a professional company director, lawyer, business and community leader.  He has experience in successfully leading companies through restructuring and deregulatory changes.  He is currently Chairman of several companies including Radio New Zealand, the Melanesian Mission Trust Board, Ngatarawa Wines, and General Power Limited.  He is also a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.

In 2000 Brian was appointed a Fellow of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand.

Executive Trustee

Deputy Chief of Navy is Executive Trustee of the Navy Museum Trust Board.

Commodore Dean McDougall, MNZM, RNZN
Commodore Dean McDougall, MNZM, RNZN
Commodore Dean McDougall was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 27 September 1961. He joined the Royal New Zealand Navy on 17 January 1980, in the rank of Midshipman in the Seaman specialisation.
On completion of initial officer training, he was posted to HMNZ Ships’ Tamaki, Taranaki, Canterbury and Waikato for further specialist training, gaining his Bridge Watchkeeping Certificate in HMNZS Canterbury. In 1990 having successfully completed the Australian Principal Warfare Officer (Underwater) course, he undertook Warfare duites in HMNZS Southland as the Principal Warfare Officer and Canterbury as the Operations Officer.
In December 1993, Commodore McDougall was posted to HMNZS Tamaki as Combined OPerations School Officer sited at North Head, Devonport, responsible for operational training within the RNZN. In February 1996 he commenced an exchange posting with the Royal Australain Navy and was appointed as the Anti-Submarine Warfare Instructor at the Principal Warfare Faculty HMAS Watson, where he remained until May 1998.
On his return to New Zealand he was posted to HMNZS Canterbury and appointed as the Executive Officer in July 1998. During this period Canterbury was fully involved in Operation STABILISE/INTERFET off East tomor. For his efforts in liaising with the Land Forces and ensuring that the ship played a pivotal role in the reestablishment of some of the shore infrastructure, particularly the village markets he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
In November 2000 he was promoted to Commander and appointed as Commanding Officer, Canterbury (the last of the RNZN’s Leander class Frigates). Commodore McDougall remained in command until February 2003 when he was posted to staff positions within HQJFNZ amd HQNZDF (Navy). In December 2006 Commodore McDougall moved back to Auckland to take up the position of Commander Maritime Operations Evaluation Team.
On 30 Novemebr 2007 he was promoted to Captain and appointed to the position of Commanding Officer, HMNZS Philomel and then in 2010 moved to stand-up position of Captain Fleet Operational Support (CFOS).
In July 2011 he undertook a Masters programme at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. where he graduated in 2012 with a Masters if Science in National Resource Strategy, prior to tkaing up a postition within the Defence Personnel Executive.
On the 3rd of May 2013 he was promoted Commodore and assumed the postion of Deputy Cheif of Navy.
Although he currently resides in the Wairarapa with his wife, Jane; he remains a staunch supporter o fthe Auckland Blues Super Rugby franchise.

Rear Admiral Jack Steer, ONZM, RNZN

Rear Admiral Jack Steer, ONZM, RNZN


Rear Admiral Jack Steer was born in Christchurch , New Zealand. He joined the Royal New Zealand Navy on 3 January 1973 as a midshipman, specialising as a seaman officer. As a young officer he served on Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ships Taupo, Waikato and Otago before taking his first command post as the Officer in Command of HMNZS Hawea.

Following the completion of his Principal Warfare Officer training in the United Kingdom, Rear Admiral Steer was posted th HMNZ Ships Otago and Southland in the positions of Wapons Control Officer and Oprations Officer.

Between June and December 1988 Rear Admiral Steer completed staff training at the Royal Australian Naval Staff College. On his return to New Zealand he was posted to Naval Staff as Deputy Director of Underwater Warfare. In Novemebr 1989 he was posted to HMNZS Southland as the Executive Officer and in May the following year was appointed Executive Officer in HMNZS Wellington.

In July 1991 Rear Admiral Steer was promoted to Commander. He completed the Joint Services Staff Course in Australia and as appointed to the staff of the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre in Williamstown, Australia. In December 1994 he took command of HMNZS Wellington, which successfully contributed to the Multinational Interception Force operations in the Arabian Gulf, enforcing UN sanctions against Iraq. In mid 1996 he was appointed as the Fleet Operations Officer at Maritime Headquarters.

In December 1998 he was appointed Military Adviser to the Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the United Nations, in New York. On completion of this posting in 2003 he undertook the Defence and Strategic Studies course at CDSS, Canberra and gained his MA in Strategic Studies.

He was appointed Cheif of Staff at Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand in January 2003 and on promotion to Commodore in April 2004, was appointed as Maritime Component Commander. In January 2006, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Navy following which he was promoted to Rear Admiral and took up the position as Commander Joint Forces New Zealand in May 2006.

Rear Admiral Steer was appointed Vice Chief of Defence Force in February 2008 and during his tenure was fully engaged in the largest reform programme ever undertaken by a New Zealand Government department. Rear Admiral Steer took up his current appointment as the Chief of Navy on 1 December 2012.

Rear Admiral Steer is married to Sally, and they have two children.


Robert Campbell Croker QSO, FCIS, CA

Robert C. Croker QSO, FCIS, CA

Robert Croker is Chairman of Trustees of the New Zealand National Maritime Museum and ex Chairman of Trustees of the Northcote Retirement Village – a significant charitable trust which also includes a rest home and geriatric hospital.  Robert was the first Chairman of Partners of Ernst & Young, New Zealand, Chartered Accountants and was senior audit partner and corporate financial consultant on retirement.  He was also ex Chairman of Richmond Limited, a publicity listed company in the meat industry and ex Chairman of Rimanui Farms Limited, a substantial private farming company.

Other interests include: life membership of Auckland War Memorial Museum, Friends of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Outward Bound and Youthtown.  Currently treasurer and executive member of the Remuera Bowling Club.

Rear Admiral David Ledson, ONZM, RNZN (Rtd)

Rear Admiral David Ledson retired on 30 April 2009 as Chief of Navy. He has agreed to be a member of the Navy Museum Board of Trustees.

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Torpedo Bay History

Torpedo Bay and North Head, 1973

Torpedo Bay is a site that has attracted many people through time and it’s no wonder why. Its position at the mouth of the Waitemata Harbour and was long ago recognised as an excellent vantage point for defence. It also provides spectacular views for modern day café patrons and picnickers. Tucked in the South West base of North Head, Torpedo Bay offers shelter, both from prospective enemy fire as well as from winds off the harbour. The fertile, free draining volcanic soil was as attractive to the first settlers from Polynesia as it is to the modern inhabitants of Devonport’s waterfront villas. The following is a very brief history of Torpedo Bay.

Early History

Tradition tells us Kupe, the great navigator, landed here in 950. He gave it the name Te Haukapua (cloud carried along by wind).

1150  Toi Te Hautahi came to Te Haukapua. His grandson, Uika, settled on the hill above, so giving it the name Maungauika (Uika’s hill). It would later become known as North Head.

1350  Chief Hoturoa landed here in the Tainui Waka, part of the Great Fleet of seven waka.
A hundred years later there were four volcanic cone pa sites in the area.
For the next 300 years, Ngati Paua and Ngapuhi inhabited the area at different times.
The 19th Century

19th Century

1827  Dumont D’urville landed L’Astrolabe in the bay. He wrote “disappointed in finding the area unpopulated.”

1835  Descendants of the Takapuna people came back to live in the area.

1858  George Beddoes established a shipbuilding yard under North Head.

1860  A Naval Artillery Volunteer Corps with responsibility for harbour defence was established at Devonport.

1863  Outbreak of war in the Waikato saw the people of Te Haukapua leave Haukapua by waka overnight.

1867  The New Zealand Torpedo Corps formed No. 2 Company of the Permanent Militia. They had the responsibility for construction and maintenance of harbour mine defences.

1878  First of the ‘Russian Scares.’ There was a real and present fear of the invasion and dominance of the Imperial Russian Navy.

Torpedo Defence

“A field of submarine mines should be laid across the harbour in the most convenient situation to prevent an enemy running at full speed past the batteries and up the harbour, to a position out of range of our guns whence he could fire into Auckland.”
Sir William Jervois, (then) Governor of New Zealand

1885  The submarine mining station at Torpedo Bay – so named because mines were called torpedoes then – was designed by Lt. Col. Tudor Boddam. A small section (0.06 ha) of land at the South West base of North Head was deemed the perfect location for a mining station.

20th Century

1904 – 1907  The Torpedo Bay depot was operational for a mere three years. Three strings of electro-contact mines were able to be deployed across the harbour, however it is not believed any mines were laid during this time.

1904-1905  The Russo-Japanese War saw the total defeat of the Russian Navy in the Pacific thus ending any naval threat to New Zealand by Russia.

1907  The submarine mining programme was abandoned and all equipment that was salvable was disposed of. The mining cable became used for telephone cable in Auckland.

1914-1918  The yard was used as accommodation and some of the buildings converted into detention cells. The most famous prisoner was Count Felix von Luckner who was held in a cell for one night after his recapture in 1917.

1920s  The wharf was rebuilt and buildings refurbished. The site was used for Army stores and unloading ammunition for North Head. In 1926 the main building was refurbished as a drill hall.

1930s  The last of the mines and guncotton were disposed of.

1939-1945  The yard remained in use as an Army store. The Army launch Bombardier was based here and used to supply personnel and stores to and from the various islands.

1958  The site was officially handed over to the RNZN.

1963  With the relocation of HMNZS Tamaki to Narrow Neck from Motuihe Island the sail training whalers were moored at the wharf at Torpedo Bay.

1960-2009  Torpedo Bay was used by the Sea Cadets, the RNZN Sailing Club and the RNZN Band.

2010  The site becomes the new home of the Navy Museum.

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Visitor Feedback

We do follow up on your experience! Here are some of our visitor’s comments.

              I think… this museum is amazing, learned heaps.
Very well organised place with the space you have.

I remember… the ANZAC spirit is truly unbreakable – side by side,
united. We owe them everything. Much Love & Respect. – Greg, Adelaide

I think… that everything in this amazing museum is  well… amazing. It was
a privilege to experience looking at it. – Corrin

I think… it is the most beautiful museum I have ever been to so I
will go back again with my girlfriend. – Khaled, Saudi Arabia



I think… this place is interesting and that it deserves
more attention. Also very educating for children my
age and under. – Stefanie, Sydney

I think… this was a very moving experience – thinking of my father
who served all through the war. – Angela, England

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