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.
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
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
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.