Royal NZ Navy's Bird-class ships

Page 6 – Peacetime years

The Royal New Zealand Navy downsized after the war, although it remained much bigger than the pre-war New Zealand Division.

Naming ships

The RNZN recycles distinguished ship names. Within months of Tui going under the scrapper’s torch in 1970, it gave the name to a modern oceanographic research ship, formerly the Charles H. Davis, chartered from the United States. This Tui was withdrawn in 1997 and scuttled as a fish reef two years later.

The navy later assigned Moa and Kiwi to two of the four inshore patrol craft built at Whangārei in 1983 and 1984 respectively. They served with South Island volunteer reserve divisions until 2007.

Even so, shortages of crews, coal and cash sent many war-built ships to the mothball fleet. This fate befell Kiwi and Tui in 1946, when, after sweeping German mines from the Hauraki Gulf, they paid off.

In a tribute to their quality, however, both were reactivated, unlike the war-built Castle-class minesweeping trawlers and the Isles-class ships (scrapped in 1958 after languishing in reserve since 1946).

Kiwi and Tui saw useful post-war service, initially as training ships. Recommissioned in 1949 and 1952 respectively, they helped to train men to fill New Zealand’s two-frigate commitment to the Korean War as well as an influx of Compulsory Military Training Scheme personnel. Kiwi was laid up for the last time at the end of 1956 and was scrapped at Auckland in 1964-5.

Tui went on to have a second life as an oceanographic research ship. Disarmed, it cruised widely, carrying out surveying work for the Naval Research Laboratory, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and other institutions. Tui was laid up in 1967 and was stripped and scrapped at Auckland in 1969-70.

How to cite this page

'Peacetime years', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 13-Jan-2022