Anzac Day at the Museum

Join us for a day of commemoration this Anzac Day – Wednesday 25 April. We’ll be making poppies from 10am-5pm to add to our ‘Field of Remembrance’.


Craft Day at the Museum

Come and join us for an Anzac themed Craft Day. Make a knitted, crocheted or paper poppy to keep or add to our ‘Field of Remembrance’. Read More

Action Stations: Make Your Own Pennant

This holiday come and get crafty by making your very own felt pennant. Inspired by naval pennants in our latest exhibition ‘Behind the Scenes’, we’ll be making personalised pennants to take home and proudly display. Sessions for children aged 3+ and this holiday we are also introducing a new workshop for children 8+ Read More

Behind the Scenes – Collection Care and Conservation

Our latest exhibition goes ‘Behind the Scenes’ with the the care and conservation of our collection. Get an insight into the factors including:Light, pests, environmental pollutants, chemical pollutants and handling that can affect the condition of an object.Read More

From signals to romance novels

From Signals to Romance Novels           

Editing the book, 75 Years of Memories – about Women in the Royal New Zealand Navy wasn’t Anne Hine’s first foray into the world of publishing. With nine romance novels to her name, Anne definitely knows her away around a book. Dreams of writing weren’t on her mind when she joined the Wrens in 1970 as a young 17 year old from Colac Bay, near Riverton in Southland.

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Up close with: Emma Wilcox Navy Museum Educator

What attracted you to working at the Navy Museum?
My role is a combination of some of my favourite things – working with people, working with history, and constantly learning myself.  Previously I worked at the Imperial War Museum in London, including on board HMS Belfast, a Second World War light cruiser, so my interest in all things naval goes back a little way too.  I feel very fortunate to have a job which combines all of these things, especially in such beautiful surroundings.

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Artefact Unpacked: A medal mystery

The museum has a set of medals belonging to H J (Harold) Beer. However, one of the medals – the British War Medal – instead of being stamped on the rim with H J Beer, is stamped ‘H J BASTRICK’.  Read More

Up Close with Michael Wynd – Navy Museum Researcher

What attracted you to work at the Navy Museum?

When I applied in 2007 I had just completed a Masters in Military History so I thought that my skills were complementary to the Museum. I remember going for the interview, and being called back an hour later and asked how soon I could start. I spent the first three months working at the Museum and finishing off my role as Student President at Massey Albany.

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Kids Create – Bravery

Bravery and courage were the focus for an innovative, collaborative exhibition at the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Kids Create – Bravery showcased works by over 100 year three and four, Takapuna Primary school children.Read More

Model Ship Builder Extraordinaire: Graham Beeson


A visit to the home of Graham and Fay Beeson is a visual feast for the eyes. Graham is a model ship builder of some repute, having built around 25 models over the last 60 years.

Five of Graham’s model Navy ships are on display at the Navy Museum, with the remainder on show at his home on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, North of Auckland. Graham’s wife Fay is extremely supportive of her husband’s passion but leaves it up to him to do the ‘dusting’ of his collection of models.Read More

Artefact Unpacked: Make and Mend

The expression make and mend derives from the early years of the Royal Navy when commanding officers began to set aside one afternoon a week for the ships’ company to repair their uniforms.  Read More

The Boatshed


The Boatshed is the Navy Museum’s newest unique permanent exhibition space where even the building has a history of its own.

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Old, New, Borrowed, Navy Blue.

for website

Old, New, Borrowed, Navy Blue is an exciting collaboration between the Navy Museum and the University of Auckland’s Art History department and is an endearing exhibition that shows how Navy tradition and pride is entwined in personal life.

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The Lusitania Medal and Propaganda War

Proof of premeditated murder or merely publicity hoopla? This medallion may seem innocuous at first glance but in fact it was a propaganda tool used by both the Germans and the Allies during the First World War.

The sinking of RMS Lusitania was a significant event in WWI. The German torpedoing of the passenger liner in the Irish Sea on 7 May 1915, with the loss of 1198 lives, caused outrage amongst the allied nations and was a factor in prompting America to enter the war. Germans argued that the ship was fair-game as it was carrying war munitions and was travelling in a declared “war zone”; they had even issued warnings to passengers beforehand not to travel on the Lusitania.

In August 1915, a few months after the sinking of the Lusitania, a medal was designed by the German artist, Karl Goetz, as a satirical attack on the Cunard Line for trying to continue business as usual during wartime. One side shows a skeleton selling tickets with the words “Business above all”; the other side depicts the ship sinking with the deck laden with guns with the words “No Contraband!”. The date was incorrectly added as 5 May 1915 which Goetz later put down to an error in a newspaper story.

MDC 0047 ii

This small mistake led to further controversy. News of the medal was picked up by the British Foreign Office who, believing it in their interests to keep US citizens aware of German actions and attitudes, sent photographs to the Americans. In the US, the story was widely promulgated, including the false report that the medal was awarded to the U-boat crew, and, due to the incorrect date on this medal, conspiracy theories were put forward that the sinking was premeditated.

The British Propaganda Office saw that the situation could be used for their own purposes and generated a reproduction medal in 1916 which was sold with a propaganda leaflet to develop anti-German feeling. It was estimated 250,000 were sold. This medallion is one of the British reproductions.

Remembering River Plate

National Flag
National Flag

“When I consider the Battle of the River Plate some 75 years on, there are many stories that come to mind.”

Rear Admiral Jack Steer, Chief of Navy

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Battle Ensign

Bob and his great nephew Jonathan Bentin at the 73rd birthday celebration for the Royal New Zealand Navy, September 2014
Bob Batt and his great nephew Jonathan Bentin


“We weren’t thinking of ourselves. We were all one on the ship. We all had our jobs to do. Nobody panicked.”

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Firing Tube

WOCH Steven Bourke with his new Symbol of Command  - The Tokotoku
WOCH Steven Bourke with his new Symbol of Command – The Tokotoku


“Down in the magazine it was impossible to tell whether each great shudder and muffled crash was an enemy hit or a snarl of the Achilles guns. Loading and firing, loading and firing. What was it like in the turret? All that mattered was getting the gun loaded and fired.”


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Enrique Rodolfo Dick
Enrique Rodolfo Dick

“On the morning after the battle”, my father said, “sailors they left their battle posts to breathe, and found items they would keep as souvenirs of that day of fire and steel. Steel is what they collected, pieces of shrapnel with strange appearance, that had left traces of the impacts of the artillery.” 

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Tom and Wendy Hickmott
Tom and Wendy Hickmott

“Four days after the battle Graf Spee left the harbour. Nobody knew what to expect. It is said that approximately 200,000 people gathered along the coastline to watch what might ensue. Would there be another naval battle just off the coast of Montevideo?”

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Lisa Eastman
Lisa Eastman



“This prism is from one of the gun sights on the Graf Spee, presented to my father after the war.” 

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Lieutenant Commander Karl Vetter
Lieutenant Commander Karl Vetter



“Once seated the gentlemen ordered a couple of beers and began to spin “dits” about the battle. Then out the corner of his eye, Stoker Evans noticed some German sailors doing the same thing at another table.”

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Travel Pass

Cdre Campbell, HMNZS Canterbury in background
Cdre Campbell, HMNZS Canterbury in background



“Suddenly cheers rang out. Every merchant ship in port sounded their horns, trains whistled and thousands of cars lining the wharf tooted. The lads were home!”

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Life Ring

OEWS L Yarwood, OEWS R  Thornton-Stevens and OEWS A Hepi
OEWS L Yarwood, OEWS R Thornton-Stevens and OEWS A Hepi

“We reminisce with a distant affection on those moments in training when we were required to live up to our three core values: Courage, Commitment and Comradeship. It is moments of history like River Plate that young sailors are taught to recall in times of hardship.”

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Commemorative Scroll

Brett Collis
Brett Collis



“Able Seaman Archibald Cooper Hirst Shaw was killed at the Battle of the River Plate and buried at sea. His commemorative scroll highlights the human cost of the battle.”

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White Ensign

Jennifer Steven
Jennifer Steven


“The White Ensign had stayed in private hands since 1940 and as an important part of our heritage I felt it needed to remain safe in New Zealand. That way it could be accessible to family descendants of River Plate veterans and interested New Zealanders.”

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Gallery Activities

The Great Museum Explorer

A colourful gallery activity where children are on the hunt for artefacts in the galleries.   At the same time they can be on the lookout for the ship brass rubbings dotted around the gallery.  With five to find they can see if they can collect the fleet.  Kids also get to keep a cool Museum pencil. Cost: $1:50

Salty Sea Dogs Activity Book

This activity book is for use in our galleries to enrich and educate. Some activities must be done in the galleries, others can be done at home to continue the fun. With 15 activities, there is plenty to do. The Salty Sea Dogs Activity Book comes with a pencil, temporary tattoo and origami paper. Just $4 per book.

Please purchase your gallery activities at Museum Reception

Fun and Games

I’m a doll from the ship HMS Leander.

Looking for something to do at home?  Why not try one of our fun activities?

Whether it is a code cracker, Navy Slang guide, colouring page or dot to dot there is something for everyone.

Kids, be sure to ask your parents before downloading anything.Read More

A Voice from the Past

Sub-Lt Thomas Chalmers Glen McBride was an accountant in Wellington before he joined the Fleet Air Arm (the flying branch of the Navy) in 1942. He trained in Britain and in Detroit, USA, before being commissioned in 1943. It was during that American stint that Glen McBride was able to record two messages to send home his personal greetings in time for Christmas.

The messages were recorded on Recordio-Grams – the audio equivalent to the photo-booth for on-the-spot production of voice letters, which became popular in America during WWII. A coin was inserted into the Recordio-Gram machine and the machine recorded your message onto a thin cardboard record via a telephone handset. The booth also provided you with a handy mailing envelope.

Recently received by the Museum, these Recordio-Grams have now been converted to modern audio files and we can hear Glen’s voice from 70 years ago.

“Young Linda” was Linda Butler, Glen’s fiancé. The couple married in April 1945 when Glen returned home to New Zealand on leave. However, they only had 5 weeks together before Glen had to return to his ship, the aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable. Linda never saw him again.

Glen McBride was lost over Japan on 10 August 1945. He was killed just five days before the Japanese surrender and is believed to be the last New Zealander killed in action in the Second World War.

The Bulldog and the Battlecruiser

On 12 April 1913, in unpleasant weather, Wellington turned out to witness the arrival of a special ship.  “… Grim grey, a little squat … HMS New Zealand moved in over the gale-swept harbour …punctual to the minute.’ (Dominion, 14 April 1913)

bulldog-battlecruiserThis Royal Navy battlecruiser was a gift to Britain from the New Zealand government and she was here down under to show us what our money had bought. HMS New Zealand was two months into a 10-month tour of Empire ports and it would be another 8 months before she returned to England. New Zealanders responded enthusiastically – more than one-third of the population took the opportunity to tour the ship, and hundreds of thousands more viewed her from the shore. “There was a sense of proprietorship deep in the minds of the beholders of the stranger. All looked upon her with a real personal interest. She was “Our Dreadnought.”’ (Ashburton, Guardian, 14 April, 1913) Captain Halsey, one of the youngest Royal Navy captains of the period, was charismatic and much lauded. A number of New Zealanders were included in the crew of nearly 800.  Also part of the crew was British bulldog Pelorus Jack, a naval volunteer with the rating of ‘Puppy,’ and ship’s mascot.

Visit the website 

Auckland War Memorial Museum and Torpedo Bay Navy Museum invite you to join us as we follow the battlecruiser on her world tour and gain insight into New Zealand’s world of 1913 through newspaper reports, photos, personal stories, ephemera and collection objects from HMS New Zealand.