New Zealand Naval Forces

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New Zealand Naval Forces
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Part ofChina Station
Garrison/HQRN Base, Auckland, Dominion of New Zealand

New Zealand Naval Forces was the name given to a formation of ships of the Royal Navy's New Zealand Station that was formed in 1913. It continued to operate under this name until 1921, when it was renamed the New Zealand Division. It would later go on to be called the Royal New Zealand Navy.[1]


In 1909, the loyal Dominion of New Zealand had no naval force. The dominion enthusiastically contributed to funding for the Royal Navy to remain in Australasian waters and the Calliope drydock located at Devonport was for the use of the Admiralty. In 1909 Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward offered to purchase a battleship for the RN.[2]

The naval crisis in 1909 was sufficient reason for Ward’s offer as well as reaffirming New Zealand’s place within the Empire as a proud dominion. His unilateral decision received wide public and political support when it was announced in the press. Construction began in 1910 on the battlecruiser that would be named HMS New Zealand.[3] Her commissioning into the RN’s Grand Fleet raised hopes in New Zealand that a major Imperial fleet would now be based in the Pacific to counter the threat of Japan and protect the dominions in the South Pacific.[4]

In 1913 there was debate within the government over whether New Zealand ought to join with Australia and form a Commonwealth Navy in the belief that there was a strategic need for a significant naval force to be based in Australasian waters. The first step to a navy was legislative. After the 1913 Imperial Conference the government passed the Naval Defence Act in December which authorised the creation of a New Zealand naval force. [5]The act established the intended structure, duties and obligations of the navy. This ‘paper navy’ awaited the reality of ships and men but this next step was delayed as the government chose to wait for the assistance from the Admiralty. On 15 July 1914 Captain Percival Henry Hall Thompson RN was appointed Advisor to the government for the purpose of establishing the new navy.[6]

In 1920 the New Zealand Station was formally split from China Station. In the following year an Order-in-Council established the New Zealand Naval Board along with regulations that formed the New Zealand Division of the RN. In January 1921 the New Zealand Naval Forces were re designated the New Zealand Division. In October 1941 the New Zealand Division was renamed the Royal New Zealand Navy.[7]


  1. Wynd, Michael. (2010). Small Steps from Empire to Independence: The Royal New Zealand Navy, 1910-2010. The Northern Mariner. Volume 24. Canadian Nautical Research Society. pp.104-106.
  2. Wynd, Michael. pp.104-106.
  3. Wynd, Michael. pp.104-106.
  4. Wynd, Michael. pp.104-106.
  5. Wynd, Michael. pp.104-106.
  6. Wynd, Michael. pp.104-106.
  7. Wynd, Michael. pp.104-106.