One hundred years ago, Britain’s Royal Navy was threatened by the modern fleet being built by Germany. In March 1909, the New Zealand Premier, Sir Joseph Ward, responded to the defence crisis by promising that New Zealand would underwrite a ship for the Royal Navy. He declared: ‘We distant sons desire to stand in any peril beside the lion mother of our race’.
People around New Zealand devoted themselves to fund-raising for the ‘gift ship’ – HMS New Zealand. They also raised moneys for gifts to present to the ship’s crew. In 1913, interest was still intense and around 500,000 New Zealanders flocked to inspect the ship when it toured the country for 10 weeks.
HMS New Zealand was an awesome sight; one visitor described it as ‘a monstrous vessel … – a grim and formidable fighting machine.’ But this monstrous vessel had a monstrous price tag – the equivalent of $231 million. Go to Collections Online for more details about this ultra-expensive fighting machine, plus related objects and images held in our collections.