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.
Establishing NZ's naval forcesWhen 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 to follow the Australian lead by beginning the development of its own navy. To this end, he secured passage of legislation – the Naval Defence Act – establishing the New Zealand naval forces in December 1913.In London he persuaded a reluctant British government to provide a cruiser as a training ship – as the starting point in creating a local New Zealand navy.
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 modern RNZN dates from 1887.
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.