HMS NEW ZEALAND
The importance of protecting our long coastline from invasion and our shipping from attack had always been paramount since the ‘Russian scare’ of the 1870s, which set in motion the Volunteer movement and the fortification of our ports.
In 1903 we made a gift to the British Government of sufficient funds to build a 16,350-ton battleship which was launched in early 1904 as HMS New Zealand. In 1909, another gift to Britain produced a new Dreadnought battlecruiser of the Indefatigable class, the last word in warships and a generation ahead of the 1904 ship.
She was completed in 1912 as HMS New Zealand, and the 1904 ship was renamed HMS Zealandia. It was intended that the Dreadnought would be stationed in the Pacific on the China Station, readily at hand to protect New Zealand.
During 1913 HMS New Zealand carried out a 10-month tour of the Empire, spending some weeks in New Zealand waters where she was met with huge patriotic pride. By the outbreak of war she was back in Britain where the need was greatest.
During her wartime service she took part in every major Royal Navy engagement with the German Navy. She played a vital role in the Battle of Jutland in which her Captain, J.F.E. Green, wore a piupiu and a tiki presented by the Maori people for good luck. In the battle she received her only hit of the war from a German shell, but without suffering any casualties, confirming to her crew that she was indeed a lucky ship.
In 1919 Lord Jellicoe took HMS New Zealand on another cruise around the Empire to show the flag and thank the Colonies and Dominions for their help. Again, she was met with huge enthusiasm when she arrived in New Zealand in August 1919.
Jellicoe was the hero of Jutland and was shortly afterwards appointed our Governor-general. In last month’s Vintage Perspectives, I dealt with the huge influence Jellicoe then had on our competitive dinghy racing history. It was all very serendipitous, and healing.
HMS New Zealand