Our Legacy

Key Dates

19 June 1961 - Inaugural meeting of the Navy League of NZ (Tauranga branch) about the formation of a Sea Cadet Unit.

15 March 1962 - UCdr G Curtis reported the formation of the Sea Cadet unit consisting of 73 boys and it is to be known as CHATHAM CORP. in memory of the first ship of the Royal New Zealand Navy

25 April 1962 - First Parade held on ANZAC Day

21 July 1962 - T S Chatham was officially commissioned.  A new cutter was handed over to the Navy League by the Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral P Phipps. 

4 April 1964 - T S Chatham wins the Northern Area Efficiency Trophy 


14 July 1967 - The Tauranga Navy League is to consider the purchase of a building owned by Beazley homes for the new Sea Cadet HQ's. 

21 September 1968 - Official commissioning of the T S Chatham Headquarters. 

27 April 1970 - Sea Cadets Corps now integrated into the NZ Cadet Forces. 

January 2011 - T S Chatham moves to occupy part of Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club, leaving its home at The Strand since 1968


Training Ship Chatham (TS Chatham) takes its name from the HMS Chatham which was one of the first ships in the Royal New Zealand Navy. 

Chatham was the name ship of type of 2nd-class light cruiser and was first commissioned on 3 December 1912. On October 1st 1920 HMS Chatham was Commissioned into New Zealand Naval Forces. At the outbreak of WWI, Chatham was part of the Light Cruiser Squadron based in the Mediterranean. After service in the Red Sea, she discovered the whereabouts of the German cruiser Konigsberg, up the Rufiji River in November 1914 and sank that ship’s attendant colliers to prevent its escape, also capturing a german merchant ship at this time. 

Then in May 1915 Chatham was employed in the Dardanelles campaign and was remembered by many New Zealand soldiers for this service. From 1916-18 Chatham was flagship of the 301 Light Cruiser Squadron with the Grand Fleet but was damaged by a mine on 26 May 1916, so missed the Battle of Jutland. After the Armistice, the ship was placed in reserve until recommissioned for New Zealand.

It had initially been decided that the ship would be primarily manned by the Royal Navy, with personnel on loan to New Zealand. Although when it came to implementing this, the Royal Navy could not provide the necessary personnel. The difficulty was overcome by New Zealand offering short term engagements of three years. which was very attractive to currently serving Royal Navy ratings who were dissatisfied with their conditions of service but still had some years to serve. By this means 293 ratings were recruited, comprising a nucleus crew for Chatham and also Philomel, the balance was made up by Royal Navy Ratings on loan and would eventually be completed by New Zealand recruits.

HMS Chatham was officially commissioned for New Zealand service on 1 October 1920. The ship sailed from Chatham on 18 October 1920 and came to New Zealand via the Azores, West Indies, the Panama Canal, Mexico, San Diego, Honolulu, Fanning Island, Pago Pago, Apia and Suva. Chatham arrived in Auckland on 26 January 1921, being met by the Governor General, sailing again later that day, for Wellington, where it arrived on 28 January.

HMS Chatham went out of NZ service on the 10 May 1924, without a ceremony. 


Chatham — National Museum of the royal New Zealand navy. (2020, June 8). National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy. https://navymuseum.co.nz/explore/by-collections/ships/chatham-town-class-light-cruiser/

FUN FACT:  Chatham Cup – New Zealand’s premier knock-out football competition 

2023 marks the centenary of the Chatham Cup – New Zealand’s premier knock-out football competition – our equivalent to the UK’s FA Cup.

The Cup was named after HMS Chatham, a Town-class light cruiser commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1912. The ship was based in the Mediterranean at the outbreak of WWI, and involved in the ill-fated Dardanelles campaign. Damaged by a mine in 1916, the ship was repaired and saw out the rest of the war in reserve until being lent to New Zealand and commissioned into the New Zealand Naval Forces in 1920.

Over the four years HMS Chatham was with New Zealand Naval Forces, it conducted a number of visits around domestic ports and through the Pacific islands. The ship had a number of Royal Navy ratings amongst the crew and during these port visits, the ship engaged in games of football whenever they could and received tremendous hospitality.

It was because of this that in 1922, the ship’s company of HMS Chatham gifted a £175 football trophy (modelled on the FA Cup) which would be played for by club teams in a domestic knock-out competition.

A team called Philomel, made up of sailors from the Devonport Naval Base, contested the first Chatham Cup in 1923. A hundred years later there is still very much a Navy connection with the Cup as the Royal New Zealand Navy Football Team are one of the almost 150 teams competing this year.

📸 PhotosportNZ / Andrew Cornaga

Source: Royal New Zealand Navy Facebook Page