This Sunday marks Merchant Navy Day, the official day of remembrance for those men and women who served and lost their lives in the Merchant Navy during WWI and WWII. This year's Merchant Navy Day holds special significant as it coincides with Father's Day, a timely opportunity to pay tribute to the men who played an instrumental role in the Merchant Navy.
The museum will host a free one-hour service that will honour the unsung heroes of the Merchant Navy from 11am, and it will include a wreath-laying ceremony at the museum’s Merchant Navy Memorial Plaque.
The term ‘Merchant Navy’ includes ships and workers associated with commercial shipping companies used during both world wars. These ships often operated in dangerous conditions and were targeted by enemy vessels trying to disrupt commerce and trade. Throughout WWII, more than 140 New Zealand seafarers lost their lives, and a similar number were taken prisoner.
Vincent Lipanovich, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Director of the New Zealand Maritime Museum, expresses the significance of this day stating, “No other group of Kiwi civilians faced as much danger during wartime, and many of these civilians were fathers and sons. Aotearoa New Zealand as an island nation has always relied heavily on seafarers to connect us globally.”
The Merchant Navy – mariners, regarded as the ‘fourth service’ alongside the navy, army and airforce – delivered troops, military equipment, food, raw materials and fuel.
“These seafarers were not trained soldiers. Rather they were skilled professionals ranging from engineers and radio officers to cooks and desk hands. We relied on them to deliver products to our shores and to send our exports to the far reaches of the globe,” says Vincent Lipanovich.
The Museum Merchant Navy Day Commemoration Programme
When: Sunday, 3 September | 11am – 12pm
Where: New Zealand Maritime Museum, corner of Quay and Hobson Streets, Viaduct Harbour
Cost: This ceremony is free, but registration is encouraged prior to attendance.
Images from the 2022 commemoration service can be found here.
Register for the in-person event here: