History of the Royal New Zealand Navy

Ships

HMNZS Gambia
HMNZS Gambia [RNZN Museum]
New Zealand’s naval ships have undertaken a range of tasks and operations. Read about ‘HMNZS Gambia’ – the ship known to have fired the last shots of World War Two and ‘HMHS Maheno ‘– a hospital ship that carried injured men back home to New Zealand in World War One.

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Medals and decorations

1914-1918 Victory Medal (MBC 0083)
1914-1918 Victory Medal [RNZN Museum MBC 0083]
Many New Zealanders have been decorated for their service in the Royal Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy. Read about the ‘RNZN Korean War Medal ‘and the ‘1939-1945 Campaign Stars’.

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Places

HMNZS Tamaki Colours 1951 (ABZ 0095 RNZN Museum)
HMNZS Tamaki Colours 1951 [ABZ 0095 RNZN Museum]
Read about the history of ‘Elizabeth House’ -the home of the women in the Navy in World War Two and ‘HMNZS Tamaki’ – a training establishment for personnel in World War Two.

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Customs and Traditions

HMS New Zealand’s mascot, Pelorus Jack
HMS New Zealand’s mascot, Pelorus Jack [RNZN Museum]
The Navy is steeped in customs and tradition and these play an important role in Navy life today. Find out what naval terms like “Splice the Mainbrace” mean and read about mascots in the Navy – including HMS New Zealand’s mascot, a bulldog named Pelorus Jack.

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Aviation

Kaman SH-2G Seasprite Helicopter
Kaman SH-2G Seasprite Helicopter [RNZN Museum]
Read about military air power in both the Royal Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy. Included are details about the modern and currently active Seasprite Helicopters.

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Technology and Weapons

Mine found in Bay of Islands
Mine found in Bay of Islands [RNZN Museum]
The Royal New Zealand Navy has a long history of technology and weaponry including radar, torpedoes and minesweeping. Read about the history of ‘NZ Coastal Defence’s and ‘Enemy Operations in NZ Waters’.

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Featured Histories

Napier after the earthquake
Napier after the earthquake [RNZN Museum]
Our Navy has played a significant part some of the historical events home and abroad. Learn about the sinking of the Japanese I-1 submarine by HMNZS Kiwi and Moa, as well as the NZDFs role in the Christchurch Earthquake recovery.

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People

Captain John Allen
Captain John Allen [RNZN Museum]
Read interesting stories of personnel who have served with the Royal New Zealand Navy and the Royal Navy. Read about Ruth Herrick – the first Director of the Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service and Leading Signalman Campbell Buchanan –who was killed while playing an integral role in the sinking of the Japanese Submarine I-1.

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RNZN History

Minimoke
Minimoke [RNZN Museum]
The Royal New Zealand Navy has a unique and interesting history. Read about ‘War Artists’ in the Royal New Zealand Navy during World War Two and the changing role of women in the Navy.

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Naval Battles and Operations

Boat operations on Enderby Island
Boat operations on Enderby Island [RNZN Museum]
The Royal New Zealand Navy has been involved in a range of battles and operations. Learn about the Navy’s involvement in the South Pacific in the 20th Century and RNZN contributions to Afghanistan, Bougainville and Iraq.

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Collections

Ship's bell
Ship’s bell [RNZN Museum]
The Navy Museum has a unique collection of objects. Read about current artefacts displayed in the Navy Museum including HMS New Zealand ship’s bell.

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Oral Histories

Slattery, Leading Signalman
Slattery, Leading Signalman [RNZN Museum]
Memories and stories from past serving members show you a glimpse into their experiences at sea. The Oral histories include veterans’ memories from as early as WWI.

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