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Navy

Events In History

15 August 1951

The TSS Wahine was chartered by the New Zealand government to transport Kayforce troops to the Korean War. Shortly after leaving Darwin it ran aground on Masela Island in the Arafura Sea, east of Timor. 

20 June 1943

Ten United States Navy personnel drowned off the Kāpiti Coast, north of Wellington, during a training exercise in bad weather.

24 May 1943

In the Battle of the Atlantic, one of the most important campaigns of the Second World War, 24 May 1943 was a crucial date. Thousands of New Zealanders took part in this long and bitter struggle.

11 November 1942

The Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand’s sleek 13,482-ton trans-Tasman liner Awatea, launched in 1936, was one of the finest and fastest ships of its size in the world at the outbreak of the Second World War.

3 August 1941

Five days after its arrival in Wellington, the four-masted barque Pamir was seized in prize by the New Zealand government.

27 November 1940

The 16,712-ton New Zealand Shipping Company liner Rangitane was intercepted and sunk 550 km off East Cape, with the loss of 15 lives.

23 February 1940

The Battle of the River Plate in December 1939 was the Allies’ first naval victory of the Second World War. The involvement of the cruiser HMS Achilles, more than half of whose crew were New Zealanders, was greeted with jubilation in New Zealand.

13 December 1939

When the cruiser HMS Achilles opened fire on the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee in the South Atlantic, it became the first New Zealand unit to strike a blow at the enemy in the Second World War.

9 August 1908

Sixteen American battleships arrived in New Zealand with much pomp and ceremony.

Articles

Prisoners of War

During the Second World War New Zealanders became prisoners of war in large numbers. Most Kiwi POWs were soldiers captured in Greece, Crete and North Africa. In total, more than 8000 were held in captivity - one in 200 of New Zealand's population at the time. Read the full article

Page 2 - Capture

Most of New Zealand's Second World War POWs were captured in the European theatre in the early stages of the war. Only about 100 New Zealand servicemen fell into Japanese hands,

First World War - overview

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie were assassinated in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. This was a key event in sparking the Great War of 1914–18. Read the full article

Page 3 - Preparing for war

News of the outbreak of war was received in Wellington at 1 p.m. on 5 August 1914. It was announced by the governor, Lord Liverpool, on the steps of Parliament to a crowd of over

Page 6 - The legacy of war

The war had a major impact on constitutional arrangements within the British Empire, and it affected New Zealand's international status.

Royal NZ Navy's Bird-class ships

October 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Royal New Zealand Navy. In 1941 the new navy had three brand-new ships – the Moa, Kiwi and Tui – working up or fitting out in Scotland. These little Bird-class minesweepers would see dramatic action in the Pacific War. Read the full article

Page 1 - The Royal NZ Navy's Bird-class ships

October 2011 marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Royal New Zealand Navy. In 1941 the new navy had three brand-new ships – the Moa, Kiwi and Tui – working up or

Page 2 - 'Pocket corvettes'

The Birds were unusual. Although they looked a little like the Admiralty’s Isles-class minesweeping trawlers, their extended forecastles gave them more of a naval

Page 3 - Early wartime duties

When the ships finally arrived at Auckland between April and August 1942, after lengthy voyages, they joined the 25th Minesweeping

Page 4 - Moa and Kiwi bag a sub

On the night of 29 January Kiwi and Moa were patrolling along Kamimbo Bay, on the north-western corner of Guadacanal when Kiwi detected a

Page 5 - The sinking of the Moa

On 7 April 1943, while refuelling from the American oil barge Erskine M. Phelps at Tulagi Harbour, in the Solomons, the Moa came under attack from Japanese

Page 6 - The Tui goes hunting

The minesweeper Tui’s turn to claim a scalp came in August

Page 7 - Peacetime years

The RNZN downsized after the war, although it remained much bigger than the pre-war New Zealand

Page 8 - Further information

Links and books relating to New Zealand Bird-classs

HMNZS Leander

When the Royal New Zealand Navy came into being on 1 October 1941, its main combat units were two Leander-class cruisers: Achilles and Leander. Although its early war was quieter than the Achilles, the Leander was to see dramtic action in the Pacific War. Read the full article

Page 1 - HMNZS Leander

When the Royal New Zealand Navy came into being on 1 October 1941, its main combat units were two Leander-class cruisers: Achilles and Leander. Although its early war was quieter

Page 2 - Leander-class light cruisers

Facts and stats about Leander-class light

Page 3 - Leander goes to war

By mid-1940 Leander was escorting convoys in the Red Sea and Aden areas. In between escorting merchant ships, the cruiser further pummelled the Italian submarine Torricelli, which

Page 4 - Pacific attack

After some early successes, Leander’s war came to an end when it was hit by a long-range Japanese

Page 5 - Recovery and repair

Leander was hit just abaft the ‘A’ boiler room. Almost 500 kg of high explosive killed everyone in the boiler room. The blast, venting up through the boiler room duct, blew eight

The Royal New Zealand Navy

Seventy years old in October 2011, the Royal New Zealand Navy is today an integral part of the New Zealand Defence Force. But its 1941 establishment was the result of a long process of naval development. Read the full article

Page 1 - The Royal New Zealand Navy

Seventy years old in October 2011, the Royal New Zealand Navy is today an integral part of the New Zealand Defence Force. But its 1941 establishment was the result of a long

Page 2 - Origins

Although some gunboats were acquired by the colonial government during the New Zealand Wars in the 1860s and torpedo boats for the coast defences in the 1880s, the genesis of the

Page 3 - First World War

When the Reform government took office in 1912, the way was opened for New Zealand to begin a new approach. The new minister of defence, James Allen, had long wanted New Zealand

Page 4 - NZ Division of the Royal Navy

The First World War experience convinced Allen that New Zealand’s approach to naval defence had been on the right lines.

Page 5 - Second World War

On 1 October 1941 an order-in-council changed the name of the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy to Royal New Zealand

Page 6 - Post-war operations

Like all the services the RNZN faced difficulties of readjustment to peacetime conditions, not only in drastically reducing numbers but also in determining the shape of the

HMS Philomel

New Zealand's first warship, HMS Philomel formed the core of the country's naval forces during the First World War. The aged and largely obsolete vessel was commissioned in New Zealand in July 1914, and went on to serve in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Middle East. Read the full article

Page 1 - NZ's first warship

New Zealand's first warship, HMS Philomel formed the core of the country's naval forces during the First World War. The aged and largely obsolete vessel was commissioned in New