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The Battlecruiser New Zealand (Hardback)

A Gift to Empire

Seaforth Naval Photographic Books Colour Books

By Matthew Wright
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 60 colour & black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526784032
Published: 30th June 2021

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This book tells the story of HMS New Zealand, a battlecruiser paid for by the government of New Zealand at the height of its pro-Imperial ‘jingo’ era in 1909, when Britain’s ally Japan was perceived as a threat in Australasia and the Pacific. Born of the collision between New Zealand’s patriotic dreams and European politics, the tale of HMS New Zealand is further wrapped in the turbulent power-plays at the Admiralty in the years leading up to the First World War. The ship went on to have a distinguished First World War career, when she was present in all three major naval battles – Heligoland, Dogger Bank and Jutland – in the North Sea.

The book ‘busts’ many of the myths associated with the ship and her construction, including the intent of the gift, New Zealand’s ability to pay, deployment, and the story behind the piupiu (skirt) and tiki (pendant) that, the crew believed, bestowed special protection upon the vessel.

All is inter-woven with the human and social context to create a ‘biography’ of the ship as an expression of human endeavour, in significantly more detail than any of the summaries available in prior accounts.

Extensively illustrated, this is a book with appeal to a wide audience, from naval enthusiasts and historians to the general reader with a wider interest in the story of Empire. The use of archival material available only in New Zealand, including the Ship’s Book, adds a dimension and novelty not previously included in histories of this great battlecruiser.

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About Matthew Wright

MATTHEW WRIGHT is a critically-acclaimed and academically qualified historian with more than sixty books to his name covering a range of historical fields including social, military, naval and engineering. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society at University College, London.

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