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The Battlecruiser New Zealand (Hardback)

A Gift to Empire

Colour Books Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing Photographic Books

By Matthew Wright
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 60 colour & black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526784032
Published: 16th August 2021


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HMS New Zealand - The Lucky Kiwi Capital Ship

YouTuber 'Drachinifel' explores more about the battlecruiser HMS New Zealand with the help of author and historian Matthew Wright. Watch Here

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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.

‘Wright skillfully uses the ship as a mouthpiece through which to tell a fascinating story of the age – the dreadnought age.’ Nick Jellicoe

"Wright’s exploration of the history of the HMS New Zealand captures the politics, events, and technology of the Dreadnought Age."

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Summer/Été 2023) - the Canadian Nautical Research Society

"Overall, this is a fine book, carefully written and particularly evocative of the period. New Zealand’s history, like that of every former part of the British empire, is not always an easy one to cover; this was a time when the world was changing, with the eponymous ship in many ways a relic almost before she was completed – and certainly by the time her short but eventful career was over."

Warship Annual - 2023

This is a much needed book that covers the story of the ship. But it isn’t just the story of the ship, as it builds in the manner of her building via the political, social and economic situation in New Zealand at the beginning of the 20th century. This part of the story alone is revealing as it exposes major differences of opinion about the defence of the Empire between the peoples and governments of New Zealand, Australia and the ‘Home Country’. The contribution of the major characters is assessed in detail.

The life of the ship is well written, making good use of diaries and journals of some of the crew. In particular the action reports give more insight into not only the ship’s experiences, but into the battles themselves, so add to the understanding of Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland.

Many photographs and illustrations used have not been published before.

A welcome addition to any naval enthusiasts collection.

Nigel Denchfield, IPMS Battleship Group

In The Battlecruiser New Zealand: A Gift to Empire, Matthew Wright provides such insight, focusing on a singular ship that sits at the intersection of some of that period’s most important events, themes, and trends.

Nautical Research Journal 67:4 (Winter 2022)

"It is well produced, photos include original builders plans, and it is a recommended read for
anyone interested in both naval and wider New Zealand history."

South West Soundings - The Newsletter of the South West Maritime History Society - December 2021, No 118

"Matthew Wright, the author of The Battlecruiser New Zealand has provided an interesting piece of history previously unknown to the reviewer. It is exceptionally well referenced quoting from both New Zealand and British sources and includes many interesting illustrations."

John M Bingeman - Royal Naval Sailing Association

Featured in

Great War IPMS, Great War SIG newsletter – October 2021

"Highly recommended."

Dreadnought, The Newsletter of the Battleship Special Interest Group: No. 179 October 2021

"This is a highly recommended book, that is a joy to read, even for those with only a vague interest in the Royal Navy and its history in the early part of the 20th century."

Les Brown, Small Warships

"The Battlecruiser New Zealand is a very fine book about a most remarkable ship."

Read the review here

Australian Naval Institute

Within the book are photographs, ships drawings, appendices with HMS New Zealand technical characteristics and costings, plus an extensive bibliography and notes. A foreword by Nick Jellicoe, grandson of the 1st Earl Jellicoe is a heartfelt tribute to Matthew Wright who has taken the utmost care to produce an eminently readable book on the history of the battlecruiser HMS New Zealand.

Roger Coleman, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

"Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended."

Peter Wykeham-Martin, Warship World

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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