Edition One -  December 2015
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Welcome to Te Waka, the Navy Museum's new format Enewsletter. This is our chance to spread the word on what is happening at your Navy Museum.

2015 has been a very significant year for us with the continuation of our WW100 commemorations. After four years of planning our WW100 Commemorative Pavilion and A.D Boyle Room were opened on 15 March 2015 by the Honourable Maggie Barry, ONZM, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. We are very proud of this space which is used for a number of different occasions such as attestations of personnel into the Royal New Zealand Navy and Chief of Navy formal functions. It is a chance also for the public to relax surrounded by objects pertaining to the World War One era. This is complemented by technology in the form of iPads where people can discover more about the First World War through our dedicated World War One New Zealanders at Sea website.

Poppies have been the symbol for 2015 at the Navy Museum, but with a slight difference; handcrafted poppies. The museum supported the 5000 Poppies NZ project and displayed 8 panels of knitted, crocheted and felted poppies. The panels were on display for three months and were greatly received by our visitors, over 7000 poppies were hand-sewn on to the panels.

Our school holiday activities have been a hit throughout the year with children going home with decorated candle holders, Natty Navy Knotters and kaleidoscopes.  Check out below what we have lined up in January at Action Stations - our newly named school holiday programme.

A first for the Navy Museum in 2015 was the collaboration between the museum and University of Auckland's Art History department for a student exhibition in our temporary gallery. Creators Georgia Casey and Maree Schwencke worked tirelessly on Old, New, Borrowed, Navy Blue and have produced an exhibition that glimpses into the private lives of some Navy personnel. Read the article below for more information on this exciting exhibition.  

October was a big month with the opening of the Boatshed and the celebration of our fifth birthday which corresponded with our 500,000 visitor to the museum. These are only a snapshot of what has happened at the Navy Museum this year and 2016 is shaping up to be to just as engaging with the Royal New Zealand Navy celebrating it's 75th Anniversary.



The Torpedo Bay Navy Museum has opened new doors to assist in telling the RNZN story: the new doors come in the shape of big wooden boat shed doors revealing gems of naval history.

After five years in the making The Boatshed, the Navy Museum's latest exhibition space is now open. Using time and resources as they became available, The Boatshed adds a new dimension to the museum.

The Boatshed and launching ramp were constructed in the late 1800's and The Boatshed was used to build, maintain and accommate naval boats over the years. It is located at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum and is situated at the waters edge of North Head.

Cliff Heywood, the Navy Museum's Operations Manager played an intergral role in the formation of The Boatshed.

"The Boatshed tells a great story of small boats and young sailors. Everyone who joined the Navy from the mid 1960's has a boat yard story to tell. All recruits learned how to rig and sail a boat here at the boat yard, rowing, or pulling as it was known in the Navy, was something we all had to master as a new recruit."

As you walk through the double doors of The Boatshed you are transported to a period of maritime history: of whalers, cutters, Clinker Sailing dinghies and a Captain's Gig. The examples on display have been maintained and restored to their former glory and are surrounded by objects associated with seamanship. You can hear the sea lapping against the piles of the building and smell the scent of nautical history- of rope, wood, oakum, all tied together with the aroma of the sea.

One of the boats on display is a Captain's Gig which is an exquisite example of craftmanship with her royal blue topsides and gold leaf scroll-work at the sheer. It was recieved by the Dockyard in 1970 after being used by HMNZS Toroa  in Dunedin. The Captain's Gig became a project for the apprentices to work on as a free time training project. A lot of work was required to bring it back to its former glory with dry rot affecting the inner skin of the hull planking.

The years passed and by the late 1977 the Captain's Gig was fit for a captain again. Word spread that the Gig had been restored and the order came to "sail it". Spars and sails were found and the 1932 Admiralty Manual of Seamanship was consulted to see how a Gig should be rigged by gleaning information from two photographs with no text.

In ideal sailing conditions in January 1978 the Captain's Gig sailed in Waitemata Harbour in front of Navy personnel and the media. She looked a dream on the water and handled perfectly but this was to be the last time she was sailed. After a good sponging down wih fresh water, the 30 foot long Captain's Gig was crated up and stored until suitable covered area within the Navy Museum could be found.

"The thought of the museum with no boats or boat shed was never an option". Cliff Heywood adds. "While it has taken a while to complete it says everything about the old days of sailing and perhaps most importantly of young learning to work as an effective team." 

The Boatshed is open from 11am to 3pm every day except like the Navy Museum, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday. 


An exciting collaboration between Torpedo Bay Navy Museum and the University of Auckland's Art History department has seen the creation of the new exhibition Old, New, Borrowed, Navy Blue, at the Navy Museum is now on show.

As part of their art history paper in Art Writing and Curatorial Practice, Honours students Georgia Casey and Maree Schwencke approached the Navy Museum with the initial inspiration for an exhibition showing how Navy tradition and pride is entwined in personal life.

The link for the exhibition between the Navy and weddings is a personal one for Georgia Casey. "I have always had an interest in maritime history, but the marriage component was inspired by my maternal grandparents' love story. My Lithuanian-American grandpa met and married my kiwi grandmother during World War II while he was serving in the U.S Navy and she was working as a nurse. Luckily he survived the war, but her stories of the struggles of being married during the war have always stuck with me, so I felt a personal connection to the subject and wanted to explore it further."

Maree Schwencke's husband served in the Royal New Zealand Navy for seven years. "Hearing Trajan's stories made me interested in showcasing parts of the Navy not usually shown and also the personal side of things. We hope that's what Old, New Borrowed, Navy Blue will do."

The partnership with the Navy Museum has been invaluable for Georgia and Maree and has brought a new dimension to the use of the temporary gallery in the museum. With support from museum staff Georgia and Maree have experienced the amount of time, thought, organisation and work that goes into curating an exhibition from scratch.

"I didn't imagine this curatorial experience to be so intense, but with the help of the people at the museum we have been supported and guided through this new and exciting experience." Commented Georgia.

Maree shares the same sentiments as Georgia and adds "It's all worth it though. It's an incredible and harrowing experience going through the personal collections of donated photo albums, personal effects, literally holding history and someone's life in your hands."

Old, New Borrowed, Navy Blue is an engaging exhibition that shows the coalition between service life and personal life using photographs, documents and items from the Navy Museum and personal collections. 


The Hutchins Ditty Box - Ditty boxes were introduced in the Navy in the 1870s. They were plain, unstained wooded boxes, issued to Navy sailors to keep personal possessions in, such as photographs, letters and trinkets. They ceased to be Navy issue in 1938 when adequate kit lockers were provided on ships.

Acting Petty Officer Terence T.A Hutchins joined the Navy in 1933. He served in HMNZS Achilles at the Battle of the River Plate. At the successful completion of the battle his wife, Violet, sent him a telegram congratulating him, "god bless you very proud well done."

PO Hutchins died following an operation for acute appendicitis in Port Vila in 1942. His wife received several letters of sympathy including one from Chaplain Bartholomew which said, "He was such a lively, cheerful personality, and was liked and respected by everyone on board, from Commander downwards". In another letter, LT Washbourn wrote, "He spoke of you (Violet his wife) many times and wanted me to write to you. He sent his love and wished for you to carry on. He mentioned how good God had been to him because he had you for a wife."


Action Stations- Magnets

Join us at the Navy Museum to create a ships’ badge magnet.

Every ship in the Navy has its own unique badge, and now you can have one too.
You can choose to either use our templates of current ships’ badges or design one yourself.  Once you have finished designing your badge it will be put into a machine and turned into a magnet to display at home.

Dates: 5-24th January 2016
Cost- $3 p/p
Duration 25 minutes approx.
Session start times: 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30
Bookings: 09 445 5186
Walk up places may be available, but bookings are recommended.
Groups of 15 people must be pre-booked.
Adults are required to remain with their children during the session.  The magnet is not a toy and the end product must be placed out of reach of children under 3 years old.


Hi, I'm Julie and I am a Guide Host at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. I have a background in Tourism and I chose to work in the tourism industry because it is lots of fun and you get to meet some very interesting people. In my job I take guided tours through the museum and on the odd occcasion I get to go down to the Devonport Naval Base and do base tours for the new recruits. I enjoy that I can teach people about what the Navy does and how important the Navy really is for New Zealand.

My favourite object in the museum is a feather with a ship painted on it. This can be found in the ABCDEarium under W (for whiling away). I picked this object becasue I love that someone who was posted to a ship took the time to meticulously paint on a feather, of all things. It also reminds me that every little thing tells a story, even things that we use today could one day be telling its story in a museum.
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