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A Nation's Gift - The HMS New Zealand Story

1 December 2006

A Nation's Gift - The HMS New Zealand Story

Navy Kaumatua Kairo Bert Mclean and his wife Valerie Mclean with Rear Admiral David Ledson, Chief of Navy and the Hon Ann Hartley, MP - Guest of Honour - with the Piupiu Exhibit at the Opening of "A Nations Gift - the HMS New Zealand Story".

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A new exhibition which opened at the Navy Museum last night tells the story of HMS New Zealand, the first battleship specifically paid for by the Government of New Zealand.

Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Ledson, hosted the opening of "A Nation's Gift - The HMS New Zealand Story", celebrating the depth of New Zealand's naval history. The exhibition tells the stories of HMS New Zealand and her crew, some including facets of New Zealand's early social history and connections with the Maori people.

The tale of HMS New Zealand's piupiu is a highlight of the exhibition. The piupiu was gifted to the Commanding Officer of HMS New Zealand, Captain Lionel Halsey, during the ship's visit to New Zealand in 1913.

Legend describes how the Maori Chief presenting the piupiu made three prophecies:
* the ship would be involved in three sea battles,
* she would be hit only once, and
* that no-one onboard would be killed.

The Chief requested that Halsey wear the piupiu in battle to protect the ship and her crew. The piupiu was worn by Halsey in the battles of Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank, and by the next Commanding Officer, Captain J.F.E. Green at the battle of Jutland. During these three battles HMS New Zealand sustained heavy fire, however the prophecy was proven accurate - she was hit only once receiving minor damage, and there were no casualties.

MP Ann Hartley, the Guest of Honour, declared the exhibition open. "This is a special, most wonderful story and one which every New Zealander should know about," she said. "I would like everyone to spread the word and with school holidays coming up, encourage all our young people to come and see this very important part of our history."

Original artefacts on display from the ship include the silver dog collar of Pelorus Jack, the ship's dog; paintings of HMS New Zealand; and the axe used to launch the ship in Scotland in 1911. Captain Halsey's sword and the original ship's bell are also on display.

'A Nations Gift - the HMS NEW ZEALAND Story' is open daily from 10:00 am - 4:30 pm at the Navy Museum, Spring St, Devonport. The exhibition will run 30 November 2006 - March 2007

ENDS

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