HMS New Zealand in Lyttelton

HMS New Zealand arrived in Wellington on 12 April 1913 as part of a 10-week tour during which an estimated 500,000 New Zealanders inspected their gift to Mother England. The crew was showered with gifts, including a piupiu (flax kilt) and a greenstone tiki (pendant) – intended to ward off evil – which were presented to the ship’s captain. Here large crowds gather during the ship’s visit to Lyttelton in 1913.


Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference No.1/1-002307-G
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

How to cite this page: 'HMS New Zealand in Lyttelton', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 17-Apr-2014

Community contributions

David McCall
28 Jan 2014

I thought it was finally paid off in the 1970s , but Te Papa write..,

n 1909, New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward (1856–1930) offered Britain a 'first-class battleship' to show New Zealand's commitment to the Empire. Without its own navy, New Zealand depended on Britain's.

The battlecruiser HMS New Zealand was completed in 1912 – financed by an enormous loan. It was fitted with state-of-the-art technology to fight Germany's modern fleet. The new ship's 'thank you' visit to New Zealand in 1913 inspired patriotic fervour. Half the country turned out to greet it.
Survival and ruin

HMS New Zealand was lucky to survive the Battle of Jutland in World War I – two of its sister ships didn't. The crew credited its luck to a protective piupiu (flax skirt) gifted by a Maori chief.

But by 1924, the ship was already obsolete and was scrapped. Another 21 years would pass before the government finally paid off the loan.

Barbara Smith
31 May 2012
There was a medal struck to recognise this visit. The obverse face reads: H M S New Zealand. There is an imprint of the battleship and under the ship, 1913. The reverse reads: To commemorate the visit of New Zealand's Gift Battleship.

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