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Naval Contribution to New Zealand


18th Century

8 October 1769

Lieutenant James Cook in command of HMS Endeavour lands at Kaiti Beach (near Gisborne) with a party of sailors and Royal Marines.
19th Century

30 January 1840

Captain Hobson arrives in the Bay of Islands aboard the frigate HMS Herald, commanded by Captain Joseph Nias RN. After consultation, Hobson drafts the English language version of the Treaty of Waitangi to be signed 6 February, 1840.

13 September 1841

Governor Hobson established a permanent naval presence at Devonport. Lieutenant Snow, a member of Hobson’s staff was given charge. He took up residence in a raupō whare.
20th Century

22 March 1909

Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward offers to the Royal Navy the gift of a battlecruiser to be named HMS New Zealand.

23 November 1912

HMS New Zealand commissioned.

12 April 1913

HMS New Zealand makes her first visit to New Zealand. By tour’s end over 500,000 people (almost half New Zealand’s population in 1912) visit the ship at the ports she visits.

11 December 1913

Government passes the Naval Defence Act establishing the New Zealand Naval Forces – on paper only, there were no ships.

15 July 1914

HMS Philomel was commissioned for New Zealand service at Wellington. Her commanding officer Captain Hall-Thompson was appointed Naval Advisor to New Zealand.

15 August 1914

HMS Philomel was placed under Admiralty operational control and escorts New Zealand occupational force to Samoa.

28 August 1914

Battle of Heliogoland Bight – HMS New Zealand participates in the battle and sinks the German cruiser Köln using her torpedoes.

24 January 1915

Battle of Dogger Bank – HMS New Zealand participates in the battle. Her gunfire cripples the German heavy cruiser Blücher.

31 May 1916

Battle of Jutland – HMS New Zealand participates in the battle. She is hit only once in her aft turret with no loss of life and no major damage.

30 April 1917

HMS Prize encounters U-93. William Sanders is awarded the Victoria Cross and is promoted to Lieutenant Commander for his actions. He is killed in action later in 1917.

22-23 April 1918

Chief Petty officer Roy Alexander wins a Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) serving aboard a motor launch during the raid on Zeebrugge. He died of wounds sustained during the action after returning from the raid.

26 January 1921

HMS Chatham arrives in New Zealand. She is to be the flagship for the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy.

14 March 1921

By Order-In-Council the New Zealand Naval Board is constituted for the overall direction and administration of the Navy. The New Zealand Naval Forces were renamed the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy.

13 December 1939

Battle of the River Plate – German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee is taken on by HMS Exeter, Ajax and Achilles. Find out more. 

27 January 1941

HMS Leander sinks the German Raider Ramb I.

19 December 1941

HMS Neptune, sister ship to HMNZS Leander and Achilles, is sunk by mines off Tripoli and 150 New Zealanders are lost. Read more. 

11 April 1942

The Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service (WRNZNS) known as the Wrens, was approved by the War Cabinet.

29-30 January 1943

Corvettes HMNZS Kiwi and Moa, on patrol off Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands fight a successful action against the large Japanese Submarine – I1. Read about the action. 

13 July 1943

Battle of Kolombangara – HMNZS Leander was struck by a Japanese torpedo killing 28 crew and injuring a further 15.

31 July 1945

Operation Struggle – Lieutenant William ‘Kiwi’ Smith XO of the midget submarine XE-3 sinks the Japanese cruiser Takao by laying mines underneath her in Singapore Harbour. His two crewmates win the VC for their actions.

2 September 1945

HMNZS Gambia represents New Zealand at the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Harbour.

3 July 1950

Loch-Class frigates HMNZS Tutira and pukaki leave Auckland for duty off South Korea – all six Loch-Class frigates would be deployed to Korea during 1950-53.

11 July 1951

HMNZS Rotoiti puts a landing party ashore at Sogon-Ni Point that engages with North Korean Forces. Two North Korean soldiers are captured by RNZN personnel involved in the raid.

30 October 1951

The Naval Wireless Telegraphy Station established at Waiouru is commissioned as HMNZS Irirangi.

20 February 1952

HMNZS Taupō with USS Endicott stops an attempted North Korean landing on Yang-Do Island.

15 June 1953

HMNZS Black Prince represents New Zealand at the Coronation Review for Queen Elizabeth II.

15 May 1957

Operation Grapple begins – first test off Malden Island. HMNZS Pukaki and Rotoiti observe as weather ships.

11 September 1958

HMNZS Pukaki is present for the final test in the Grapple series of British nuclear tests.

1 January 1964

The New Zealand Naval Board becomes part of the Ministry of Defence.

28 June 1966

HMNZS Hickleton fires the last shots (fired in anger) to date during the Indonesian Confrontation.

16 September 1966

The Leander Class fridate HMNZS Waikato is commissioned into RNZN service. This is the first use of helicopters on RNZN ships – WASP helicopter is standard with frigates.

20 June 1968

Royal Assent for the White New Zealand Ensign was granted to the Royal New Zealand Navy. It replaced the cross of St George with the four stars of the Southern Cross.

28 June 1973

HMNZS Otago sails to Mururoa Atoll under orders from the Government, to protest the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by France.

21 July 1973

HMNZS Otago arrives at Mururoa and observes the first test.

25 July 1973

HMNZS Otago is replaced on station by HMNZS Canterbury who observes the second test.

29 July 1977

Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service is formally disbanded.

10 August 1995

HMNZS Tui leaves to observe Operation Valerian – French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

22 July 1997

The first ANZAC-Class frigate HMNZS Te Kaha is commissioned.

December 1999

Te Mana – Anzac Class Frigate is commissioned into RNZN.

13 June 2007

Multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury enters service with RNZN.

6 May 2009

Pukaki is delivered to the Ministry of Defence and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy.

29 May 2009

Taupo is the last of the four IPVs that was delivered to the Ministry of Defence and commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy.

26 June 2020

Aotearoa RNZNs new Polar Class support vessel built in Korea arrives in Auckland.
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