Bay of Islands college old boy at helm of Navy ship

Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef
Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef (MC10-0002-067)

6 May 2010

The Commanding Officer of HMNZS MANAWANUI, Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef, is proud to be bringing the Navy’s dive tender to the Bay of Islands, his old stomping ground.

“I'm looking forward to bringing the ship back to the Bay of Islands, and allowing my family the opportunity to come and visit”. 

While the ship is in the Bay of Islands, students from Whangaroa College will be transferred to the ship by sea boat for a tour of the ship. They will be returned to Paihia after having morning tea with the crew.

While Whangaroa College get a tour of the ship, Lt Cdr Leef and members of the crew will go to Bay of Islands College where they will receive a Whakatau led by the college’s Maori cultural group..

“I'm really looking forward to returning to my old school, Bay of Islands College, where I'll get the chance to speak with the students and talk to them about the opportunities that are available to them after they finish High School" 

After the presentation, Lt Cdr Leef and a number of students will depart the school for Paihia Wharf. From there a sea boat will transport them to the ship for a tour, before MANAWANUI berths in Opua at 1400 on Friday 7 May 2010.

MANAWANUI will depart Opua on Monday 10 May 2010.

Biography: Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef

LTCDR Wiremu Leef joined the RNZN in January 1991 as a fleet midshipman. After conducting initial basic training in Auckland he was posted to sea onboard HMNZS SOUTHLAND (Leander Frigate) for 12 months for Bridge Watchkeeping training. Returning from sea, he undertook further shore based training in late 1992 before being posted to HMNZS WELLINGTON to complete his formal Bridge Watchkeeping qualification.

LT CDR Leef continued training at sea and was awarded his Grade One Bridge Watchkeeping qualification in Sept 1994. Subsequent postings from 1994 through until 1999 saw LT CDR Leef carry out Watchkeeping duties onboard HMNZS MONOWAI (Hydrographic Research Vessel), HMNZS CANTERBURY (Frigate) and HMNZS ENDEAVOUR (Tanker) this period also included several deployments throughout South East Asia, and one deployment to the Arabian Gulf in 1996.

In 1994 he undertook training as a Helicopter Approach controller (HAC), and subsequently completed training with the Royal Australian Navy qualifying as an Anti-Submarine Air Controller (ASAC) in 1995. During his postings onboard CANTERBURY and ENDEAVOUR he carried out the additional duties of Air Control Officer.
In Sept 1999 he was selected to undergo aviation training and was posted to the Canadian Forces Base in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he undertook the 11 month Air Navigators course, he graduated from this course in July 2000 achieving the highest practical marks for his course. In Sept 2000 he then attended further 10 months aviation training at the Naval Air Station in Nowra, NSW with the Royal Australian Navy, successfully graduating as a Flight Observer. 

Returning to New Zealand in June 2001 he was posted to the Naval Support Flight of No. 3 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) where he commenced flight conversion training to the SH2G (NZ) Super Seasprite.   In Oct 2002 he was posted to HMNZS TE KAHA (Anzac Frigate) observer where he completed his final embarked conversion training while on operation in the Arabian Gulf.
In Jan 2003 LT CDR Leef was posted to HMNZS TE MANA (Anzac Frigate) as Flight Observer, subsequently assuming the position of Flight Commander in March 2004.  During his two and a half year posting to TE MANA he carried out flying operations in Asia as well as two consecutive deployments to the Arabian Gulf, and Gulf of Oman in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In March 2005 he returned to Naval Support Flight where he undertook general shore based flying duties and assisted with unit training.  In July 2006 he posted to the HQ JFNZ as the Joint Forces Staff Officer for Maritime Aviation Operations.  During his 18 month posting within the headquarters he was also attached to the RNZN Maritime Operational Evaluation Team (MOET) where he assisted in training and maintenance of flying standards and safety.

In Nov 2007 he returned to TE MANA as the Executive Officer (XO).  During his tenure as XO the ship conducted a high intensity Workup period before being deployed to the Arabian Gulf for further maritime security operations.  The deployment included a three month period on station working within a multi-national task group environment and several port visits in support of New Zealand diplomatic and defence relations.  On return to New Zealand he was awarded a Chief of Navy Commendation for his outstanding contribution to the success of the mission. He remained as XO until posting to the NZDF Command and Staff College in May 2009.

Over the period May to Dec 2009 he was a student on the NZDF Command and Staff Course held at Trentham Army Camp, Wellington.  As a student he undertook post-graduate study concentrating on Military Studies, Command and Management, International Relations and Strategic Studies.  He successfully completed the course and has continued his study through Victoria University of Wellington with the intention of gaining his Masters of Strategic Studies (MSS) by early 2011.
LT CDR Leef assumed command of HMNZS MANAWANUI on 15 March 2010.


MANAWANUI is part of the Navy’s Littoral Warfare Support Group and supports diving and mine counter-measure operations.

The Navy’s Operational Dive team is often based on MANAWANUI who are trained for deep diving using mixed gas breathing apparatus, and is skilled in underwater demolition and unexploded ordnance disposal. Onboard MANAWANUI you will find modern system including a compression chamber, a diving bell, a 15 ton crane and workshop facilities including electric and gas welding equipment and a lathe. 

With a range of 5000 nautical miles MANAWANUI can undertake peacekeeping and maritime security missions around the New Zealand coast, South Pacific and South East Asia regions. MANAWANUI is a frequent visitor to New Caledonia to take part in multi national exercises in mine clearing.

Displacement: 911 tonnes
Length: 43.6 metres
Beam: 9.5 metres
Draught: 3.2 metres
Range: 5000 + nautical miles
Crew: 20 personnel


Our Littoral Support ships RESOLUTION and MANAWANUI undertake diving, mine clearance and surveying work around New Zealand and the Pacific.

For more information please contact Lieutenant Sarah Campbell, Senior Media Adviser - Navy on 021 244 0638.

This page was last reviewed on 19 January 2011.