The Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNZNVR) is the volunteer reserve force of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).


Early history

The first Naval Volunteer units were formed in Auckland and Nelson in 1858. Over the rest of the 19th century Naval Volunteer units were formed in various ports such as Bluff, Wanganui, and Wairoa. These were reorganised into Naval Artillery Volunteers in 1883.

The Volunteers, or "Navals", peaked after the Russian-scare in the 1880s with a total of 20 units. Volunteers were trained in boats, taught gunnery, and manned some of the coastal batteries at the four main ports. Later they were also trained in mining submarines and maintaining minefields that were laid in Auckland and Wellington harbours.

The Naval Volunteers supplemented a small number of regular soldiers known as the Permanent Militia. The Permanent Militia included the New Zealand Torpedo Corps who were responsible for manning the four Defender-class torpedo boats and the Submarine Mining Corps.

In 1902 the Volunteers were further reorganised into the Garrison Artillery Volunteers. In a special report in 1919, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe recommended that New Zealand acquire 18 minesweepers.

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

The next major reorganisation occurred in 1926 when the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy was formed. A unit of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve was established in Auckland and further units were opened in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin two years later.

The Government finally responded to Jellicoe's report by purchasing one second-hand minesweeping trawler, HMS Wakakura. This was the sole training ship for the Naval Reserve until the beginning of World War II. Wakakura moved from port to port so each unit could have its share of sea training and live gunnery practice.

By 1939 the need to protect merchant ships from mines which might be laid round the coast was becoming increasingly apparent. There were, at that point, 78 officers and 610 ratings active in the New Zealand Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Current Day

The primary role of the New Zealand Defence Force is to protect New Zealand from security threats. As a Reservist, you will utilise your military skills in a wide range of situations from assisting in civil emergencies to operational deployments overseas.

On completion of initial training, Reservists need to commit to a minimum of 20 days annual service (accumulative).  You will also be expected to maintain your fitness levels and to pass academic and other requirements at the same level as Regular Force Navy personnel.