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Battlecruiser New Zealand – ‘biography’ Of A Ship That Defined The Country’s Imperial Past

HMS New Zealand is arguably the most famous ship ever to serve for the country, even though it was under Royal Navy colours.

It has hitherto featured only in general naval histories, so this week’s publication of The Battlecruiser New Zealand by Matthew Wright fills in an often-overlooked chapter in the nation’s story.

In March 1909 New Zealand’s Premier Joseph Ward offered a ‘first class battleship’ to the British Navy as a contribution to the Empire (and to guard against the perceived threat of a newly rising Japan). Paid for by the people of New Zealand it entered service in time to fight with distinction in the North Sea naval battles of the First World War.

Born of the collision between New Zealand’s patriotic dreams and European politics, the tale of HMS New Zealand is further wrapped in issues of engineering, naval strategy and public opinion.

The Battlecruiser New Zealand is a fast-paced account of the ship’s career — brought to life through official documents, eyewitness accounts and new research. Kiwi historian Matthew Wright tells the story as part naval history and part ‘biography’ of the vessel and its sailors.

It has published simultaneously in New Zealand and Australia with Oratia Books, and in the UK with Seaforth Publishing, one of the world’s largest publishers of maritime books.


Matthew Wright is the author of over 60 books on a wide range of topics for all ages, principally New Zealand history. A highly respected historian, he is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His most recent books with Oratia are The New Zealand Wars and Freyberg — A Life’s Journey. He lives in Wellington.

The Battlecruiser New Zealand by Matthew Wright

Published by Oratia Books

ISBN: 978-1-526784-0-32 | Hardback |288 pages |RRP $59.99

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