Read about early Navigators such as Kupe, Toi, Abel Tasman and James Cook.
The history of New Zealand has an intimate link with that of the Royal Navy. As a maritime nation we have been defined by the sea and the ships that have reached our shores. Read information about the early navigators, Treaty of Waitangi and the New Zealand Wars.Read More
Based on a Peake design Britomart was a ten gun brig of the Cherokee/Cadmus/Rolla- class which was introduced into the British Navy in 1807. Overall length was 90 feet, beam 24foot 6 inches, and depth 11 feet. She displaced 237 tons and was armed with two six pounders and eight eighteen pounders and crewed by seventy five men.Read More
The role of the Navy in the form of HMS Hazard, was a crucial element in the opening of the Northern War and in the battle of Kororareka. Although directed to pursue a defensive policy the ship was involved in several attempts to impose law and order at the request of the civil authorities in the weeks leading up to the Battle which resulted in exchanges of fire. Read More
The Royal Navy had a significant involvement in the Waikato Campaign in 1863. This was part of an over pattern of naval support during the New Zealand Wars. Read an overview about the Waikato Flotilla, the Gunboat Pioneer and the Battle of Rangiriri.Read More
At 3 o’clock in the afternoon of 20 November 1863, three Armstrong guns opened an attack on a Maori redoubt at Rangiriri. In command of the attacking force, comprising 850 officers and men of the British Army and a Naval Brigade, was Lieutenant General Sir Duncan Cameron. Commodore Sir William Wiseman was in command of the Naval Brigade, made up of personnel from HMS Curacoa, Harrier, Miranda, and Eclipse. Read More
Because of the shift in power and possible threat to British interests, Britain and Japan signed a treaty on 31 January 1902 which lasted until 1923. Both parties affirmed that they were open door powers. The treaty was only broken as US insistence in 1923 as part of the Washington Naval Treaty discussions.Read More
Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Ward, wrote a paper for cabinet on Saturday 20 March 1909, proposing that New Zealand offer to meet the cost of one and if necessary two, first class battleships for the Royal Navy. HMS New Zealand was laid down on 20 June 1910 as a unit of the indefatigable class.Read More
New Zealand made a worthy contribution to the naval war of 1914 – 1918. Given the small size of the country it is a contribution of which we can be proud.
Visit the Navy Museum’s online resource that tells the little known story of New Zealand and New Zealanders’ involvement in the sea war of World War One.
In 1925 a second American fleet visited New Zealand stopping at our major ports. As they docked at the civilian port rather than the naval base the records are not held by the Museum. Read a timeline of events and the ships that visited. Read More
In 1939 the navy in New Zealand was organised as the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. Our vessels were operated by the New Zealand government but came under the control of the Royal Navy. Hence all our ships’ prefixes at this time were HMS not HMNZS. Read about our ships, shore establishments, aircraft and personnel.
Read about why New Zealanders were involved in the Battle of the River Plate and the significance this battle had on the life of New Zealanders.
(WWII) Letter from the Captain Langsdorff of the Graf Spee to the German Minister at Montevideo 17 December 1939
Read a transcript by Captain Langsdorff stating his determination to sink the his ship the Graf Spee after the Battle of the River Plate. Read More
Although many New Zealanders served with the Royal Navy in all theatres during the Second World War, our fleet after 1941 mainly operated in the Pacific. Read about the campaigns undertaken in the Pacific.
Read about New Zealand Navy, New Zealand Army and New Zealand Air Force operations in the pacific during World War Two.
On the night of 29 January 1943 two New Zealand corvettes, HMNZS Kiwi and Moa sank the Japanese Submarine I-1 off Kanimbo Bay on the northern tip of Guadalcanal. The next night Moa, with HMNZS Tui, encountered some Japanese landing barges. During the engagement, she received a hit on her forward 4 inch gun, which passed through the sighting aperture and exploded, setting fire to the ready-use cordite.Read More
In late February and early March 1944, there were several reports and sightings of submarines off the New Zealand coast, mainly in the area between Banks Peninsular and Kaikoura. Of the eight reports, four were sightings of torpedo tracks, one was an ASDIC contact and two were sightings of a submarine.Read More
The German raider HKS Orion laid a total of 228 mines in the approaches to the Hauraki Gulf on the night of 13/14 June 1940. All mines were of the moored, contact G.X.* type. The mines were laid in three drops, some 366 metres apart, others 732 metres yards apart.Read More
In 1929 the Navy had drawn up a scheme for maintaining a watch from the coasts of New Zealand, using the services of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (NZ Division). In 1935 the scheme was modified to pass over the duty of actual coastwatching to trustworthy civilians who were to report to the District Naval Intelligence Officers in the four main cities, the whole organisation being under the operational control of the New Zealand Naval Board.Read More
New Zealand’s naval intelligence effort during the Second World War can be said to be characterised by a slow expansion of capabilities, building on the First World War experience. ‘Y’ intelligence certainly came into its own, as did the great expansion in inter-Allied co-operation. Read More
In early 1941, during the Second World War, an informal Emergency Patrol Service was created at Whangarei as the Waterfront Section of the Emergency Precautions Organisation. Read about NAPS organisation, duties and manning, full-time service and finally the closing down of the NAPS.Read More
This is the kind of story that would not be out of place in a Tom Clancy novel. The plot includes audacity, heroism, code breaking and sacrifice.Here then, is the tale of how the death of a former factory worker from Port Chalmers became a link in the chain of events that resulted in the state-sponsored assassination of a military genius.
Demobilization after a major war is always a very difficult process for armed forces. The New Zealand Armed Forces were certainly not exempt from the problems associated with demobilization and reorganization after the end of the Second World War. Read about the events surrounding the Mutiny in 1947.Read More
After the election in Australia, Prime Minister Sidney Holland sought to break the power of the Waterside Workers Union one of the most militant and communist dominated of the unions in New Zealand. Discontent and unrest reached a peak in February 1951 and the ship owners locked out the watersiders after a stopwork. Read about the important role The Royal New Zealand Navy played in the following events.
The Korean War was possibly the first link between the Royal New Zealand Navy and Korea. It can be seen that 53 years after the end of the war NZDF personnel are continuing to contribute to the continued stability of Korea. Read about the New Zealand’s naval contribution to Korea.Read More
Chief Petty Officer Mason-Riseborough was the Chief Boatswains Mate of the frigate HMNZS Taupo during active service in Korea in 1952. Taupo spent considerable time patrolling the east coast of Korea bombarding shore targets such as bridges and railway tunnels. Here he describes one particular action off the Island of Yang-do.Read More
The Museum has been able to identify two men who served with the Fleet Air Arm during the Korean War: Lieutenant [A] Roy Hooker and Lieutenant [A] Cedric MacPherson.Read More
It is not well known that New Zealanders took part in the only surface engagement of the Korean War between UN naval forces and the North Korean navy. The deployment of the cruiser HMS Jamaica to Korean waters resulted in three RNZN Midshipmen taking part in the engagement. Read More
The Royal New Zealand Navy played a significant role in sending a frigate to protest French nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1973. It is a unique act in New Zealand political history. It showed how much the government had changed its views from participation in the 1950s with Operation GRAPPLE to outright opposition. Read More
HMS Veronica arrived in Napier ahead of schedule on February 3, 1931. Though she wasn’t expected until the afternoon, she tied up in the harbour at 7:50 a.m. Shortly before 10:45, Veronica’s captain, Commander H.L. Morgan DSO, met with the harbourmaster to organise his official visits of the day. What happened next resounded all around the country. It brought Napier to her knees and altered the course of Veronica’s routine visit.
(1945-1975) Involvement of HMNZS Lachlan in the French Nuclear Testing Programme at Mururoa June 1973 – Operation PILASTER
The survey vessel HMNZS Lachlan had an involvement in the RNZN’s operations connected with the French atmospheric nuclear testing at Mururoa in 1973. Read about HMNZS Lachlans operational deployment.Read More
The final hostile naval action of Confrontation occurred on the morning of 28 June 1966. The action took place near the Horsburgh Light at the eastern end of the Singapore Strait, when HMNZS Hickleton intercepted a kumpit [the naval term for a sampan] carrying three, uniformed men and a boatsman.Read More
Read accounts of Peacekeeping Operations by Lieutenant Commander C.J Griggs, Chief Petty Officer Maika, Petty Officer A.D Smith and Warrant Officer G.R Davis.Read More
The Vietnam War ran from the early 1960s until 1975. From 1964-1973, New Zealanders were deployed in to South Vietnam, with a combat force in action from 1965 – 1971. In addition to the Army units, a joint service New Zealand Services’ Medical Team was deployed to provide civilian aid as a Military Public Health Programme to the town of Bong Son in Binh Dinh province from May 1967 – December 1971.Read More
Read about the acquisition of a multi-role vessel, and offshore and inshore patrol vessels. These vessels were to be operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy to conduct tasks for and with New Zealand Customs, the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Fisheries, Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand & New Zealand Police.
Read about the earthquakes in Christchurch on September 2, 2010 and Feburary 22, 2011. Learn about the NZDF response, the rescue efforts and the scale of the operation.