On November 19th 2016, the Royal New Zealand Navy are holding the 75th Naval Review & have extended an invitation to the owners of any historic vessels that might be interested in taking part in the Review procession.  Interested owners can check out the Op Neptune website & are asked to make contact with Commander John Butcher via Andrew Watts – the email address is, , please include details on your vessel & a photo/s.

The 1932 Colin Wild built classic launch ‘Wirihana’ was one of a number of vessels commandeered by the Royal New Zealand Navy during WWII to run supplies and to patrol the coastal waters around the Hauraki Gulf and up to the Bay of Islands. Her identification was Q01, photos above & below. Wirihana took part in the 50th Naval Review along with a number of the other classics that served as patrol boats and will be participating again this year.

A lot of our classic fleet played a very important defence role during WWII, its not well recorded but the Hauraki Gulf was mined. It is NZ Governments best kept secret. The NZ press often quote the closest NZ has come to war was the Rainbow Warrior bombing! This is BS, they just don’t know. A lot of the records make the patrol work sound like a boys own trip but  Wirihana and the other boats were on patrol for two years summer and winter, it would not have been much fun in these small launches.
The crews made their own navigation sketches so they could recognise headlands by their outline in poor visibility. Similar to those in the NZ Pilot. They had no chart plotters or navigation aids (only a compass) and often ran without Navigation lights.

So woodys if you own or know someone that owns one of the launches – get in touch today with the RNZN


Chris McMullen found the  letter below on board ‘Wirihana’. Chris commented that he would imagine the writer has now passed on. Chris hopes the letter may draw
some history from others with photos and letters hidden away. Photography
was illegal during the war but it certainly did not stop people from
recording their life at the time.
Chris  recalls going to school with a John Rhodes who he thinks lived at Bassett Rd.
Remuera. Maybe the same family?


Below is light hearted list of NAPS boats out of Whangarei. Sent to me by Brian Fulton.


08-1-2016 Input From Chris McMullen
A German Raider mined the outer Hauraki Gulf. An account is recorded in the translated from German, a book listed as “The Black Raider”by Kurt Weyher and Hans Jurgen Ehrlich.
Chris’s copy dated 1955. Below are the relevant pages but there is more. This happened June 13th 1940. As a result the SS Niagara was sunk 19th of June 1940.
The Raider Orion sunk many ships off the New Zealand Coast.





  1. we own the shenandoah ww11 outer patrol Q03 WT repairs,Wirihana inner patrol was the first boat to be commissioned 15/9/39,the second one the next day was Lady Gay they were to guard the inner Hauraki gulf approached to Auckland. Other boats were Amakura Q04 taken over on 7/40 outer patrol supply duties, Hoturoa Q? 8/1/42 inner patrol despatch boat, Lady Margaret Q08 5/2/42 outer patrol,Lady Shirley Q11 16/5/41 outer patrol boom defence,Maristella Q02 3/2/40 outer patrol PWSS supply, Movarie Q05 14/11/40 outer patrol, Rawea Q06 5/12/40 outer patrol , TE rauparaha Q07 27/11/40 outer patrol.. cheers


  2. Wow, that got some response. Not sure it was clear but the German Raider Orion mined the outer Hauraki Gulf. An account is recorded in the (translated from German) book listed as “The Black Raider”by Kurt Weyher and Hans Jurgen Ehrlich. My copy dated 1955. I have copied the relevant pages but there is a whole chapter “Mines in the Hauraki Gulf”. This happened June 13th 1940. As a result the SS Niagara was sunk 19th of June 1940. The Raider Orion sunk many ships off the New Zealand Coast. I have asked AH to post a scan of some pages from the book. The letter from Lou Rhodes tell the reason our launches were commandeered.


  3. Actually there are plenty of copies of that about, Allan. I wrote a series of articles about NAPS launches some years ago for Boating NZ which were based on this document.


  4. Harold or Alan–also have a photocopy of a NAPS newsletter getting hard to read completely 1943, given to me by Jack Taylor [just turned 95].
    He served on one of them. Happy to send this to anyone who can use before lost forever. Allan


  5. Nice to see you at the Mullet Boat Show this morning, Wendy. Great insight from your famous father here!


  6. Agreed. Considering it was a side issue, Bob MacDougall did a great job of collating all that information. During WW2 there were a couple of comprehensive profiles done on the Whangarei and Auckland NAPS boats by their crews which helped, but there was very little contemporary information on the Wellington and Lyttelton craft, hence the gaps I was talking about. Some dates of build, builder’s names, engines etc are approximate too. Many of the launches were re-engined as it was very hard during wartime to maintain a fleet with a very diverse range of engines, from Deutz diesels, to Ailsa Craigs to Lycoming side-valvers. Some got USN-supplied 6-71 GMs or Chrysler Crowns.


  7. OK ta Harold, but a wonderfull place to start and have never seen another summary like this. I noticed a few questionable dimensions also.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A wonderful tribute to this dedicated group of largely unsung heroes who manned these little craft as they did, & much overdue. May they at last receive a little the recognition, of which they are so worthy.KEN R


  9. The “HMS RAWEA” mentioned in that letter was, of course, the Chas. Bailey 50 foot launch built for R.W. Butcher and launched in March 1940. She was impressed into Patrol Service by the Navy as Q6 and was sunk in that collision off Cape Brett in February 1943, the only one of these impressed launches that was lost in WW2.


  10. My father, Jim Young was one of the crew of a NAPS boat, Z 14 Wairuama, here are his first hand recollections of the role of the NAPs (Z class)compared to the coastal patrol boats, the (Q class)
    There was a distinction between the Q class boats which were permanent navy and the NAPs which were a completely separate division that was part time navy, in some ways a naval version of the home guard. The crews were never on patrol long enough to suffer the rigours of close confinement in all weathers. The NAPS boats were maintained and operated through the naval organization, but only on a part time basis. Their owners were part time naval personnel and given the rank of petty officer, each boat had a crew of 6. Every 6th night, between 6pm and 6 am, they did overnight patrol of Rangitoto channel and Motuihe Passage. They had on board an Aldis lamp and a set of semaphore flags for communication (No radio) a Bren gun and small depth charges. They were some times also called upon to do other odd services, for example, I recall one night taking various high ranking officials out to view the blackout from the approaches to the Auckland Harbour.


  11. Unfortunately the NAPS list in NZ Naval Vessels has big gaps and a few errors, so don’t treat it as Gospel.


  12. Alan, I have a list of all the NAPS vessels with basic dimensions, year, owners etc, if anyone wants this. There were 11 commissioned craft, and a further 35 on volunteer duties. Marvellous list published in NZ Naval Vessels book. Cheers Allan


  13. Our HDML Paea will be there…. its all hands at the moment getting Paea all pretty, tiddly and ready for the event.


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