The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) has partnered with Westpac NZ to present 30 Years of Women at Sea: Honouring the Journey, as part of its 75th Anniversary celebrations.

Opening today, the exhibition at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in Devonport, Auckland aims to give visitors an unprecedented fly on the wall perspective of the thoughts and experiences of the women who have been, and who continue to be, a part of the RNZN’s journey. The women of the RNZN broke new ground in 1986 by joining a sea-going ship as full members of the ship’s company, and women continue to play a key role in today’s Navy.

“The Navy needs the talents of all New Zealanders and could not fulfil its duty to New Zealand without naval women,” says Captain Corina Bruce, Programme Director. “And while the number of women in the Navy is growing, we would like to see more of them now and in the future.

“This museum exhibition gives the Navy the chance to celebrate the journey of women going to sea for the pilot study in 1986 and subsequent seagoing experiences over the past 30 years. It provides a picture of how far we have come from being the first of the New Zealand Defence Force services to allow women into combat roles, to now celebrating three decades of being an equal opportunity employer,” she says.

Each stage of the journey is documented through personal experiences depicted in photographs and stories. The museum exhibition will remain open for current serving personnel, veterans, friends and families, and the general New Zealand public for at least six weeks.

The museum exhibition is the first part of the Women at Sea programme of events, being celebrated throughout June, and is the only event open to the general public. The events will conclude with a conference looking at how the Navy can further enable women’s development and progression in the future.