Merchant Navy Day

This national commemoration honours civilian sailors who served during war.


Merchant Navy Day is commemorated each year on September 3. This is the anniversary of the first Allied merchant ship being sunk during World War 2.

Merchant Navy Day is an annual event held on the 3rd of September. It is a national commemoration, acknowleding those who served during World War 1 and World War 2.
Ministry for Culture and Heritage ©2017
​Veterans lay poppies on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

By the end of the war 33,730 Commonwealth merchant seafarers had lost their lives. The national commemoration is held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

More from this event

Further reading related to Merchant Navy Day:

Merchant Navy Day is an annual event

Media release 2016

“This is a significant commemoration to honour the several thousand New Zealand seafarers who served... under the British red ensign.”

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Find background information about the Merchant marine

World War I

‘New Zealand’s overwhelming dependence on sea trade and close economic ties to Britain ensured... an essential role in the First World War.’

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Find background information about the Merchant Navy

World War II

‘This work was so essential to the Allies' war effort that the Merchant Navy was effectively regarded as the fourth service alongside the army...’

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Related information:
Our visual timeline highlights some major events in our maritime history.


Learn about New Zealand’s maritime history.
View timeline