HMS WELLINGTON arrived in Auckland in April 1935, joining three other warships on the New Zealand Station, HMS Leith, HMS Dunedin and HMS Diomede.

For the next four years she was engaged in patrolling the British Protectorates in the South Pacific. This was a role that is almost unimaginable today; the white-painted warship, a small but potent symbol of British authority over an Empire which was thought that the sun would never set.

In 1935, well over 500 inhabited islands, and many more that were uninhabited, were scattered over some eight million square miles of ocean, and owed allegiance to the Crown.

A cruise by WELLINGTON would last around ten weeks, and around fifteen islands would have been visited. It was customary for the Commander and his officers to entertain local dignitaries aboard WELLINGTON and then experience local hospitality in return. Whenever circumstances allowed, teams from the ship played the islanders at cricket or football.

It is documented that school children on the visited islands were often welcomed on board for educational purposes, experiencing the day-to-day life on board a British warship, something that the Wellington Trust continues enthusiastically today in our free educational sessions. For more information email

These patrols, interspersed with musketry training and bombardment practice,  after came to an end on the 21st August 1939, when the ship was ordered to return to Auckland ‘with despatch’. War clouds were gathering across Europe and the WELLINGTON was recalled for active duty.