"You have the ship" - change of command for MANAWANUI

27 May 2010

A ceremony to mark the official change of Commanding Officer of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s diving support ship, HMNZS MANAWANUI, will be held Friday 28 May 2010 at 1000, at the Devonport Naval Base.
During the ceremony Lieutenant Commander Phil Rowe will relinquish command of HMNZS MANAWANUI and Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef will assume command.

The Change of Command Ceremony is traditionally formal and impressive – designed to strengthen the respect for authority, which is vital to any military organisation.

The changing of command takes place when Lieutenant Commander Rowe states “You have the ship” and Lieutenant Commander Leef replies: “I have the ship”. 

Witnessing the ceremony will be the crew of HMNZS MANAWANUI, invited guests, families and friends.


Media are welcome to attend the Change of Command Ceremony at the Devonport Naval Base. Photographic Identification is required for entry to the Naval Base. 

For further information, requests for interviews and registrations of interest to attend the ceremony, please contact Lieutenant Sarah Campbell, Senior Media Adviser-Navy Mob: 021-244 0638


Commissioned into the RNZN 1988   
Crew 20 personnel   
Range 5000 + nautical miles   
Speed 11 knots   
Length 43.6 metres   
Displacement 911 tonnes 

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

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.

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


Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef is from Kawakawa and 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. Returning from sea, he undertook further shore based training in late 1992 before being posted to HMNZS WELLINGTON 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.

In Sept 1999 he was selected to undergo aviation training and was posted to the Canadian Forces Base in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he undertook a Air Navigators course. He graduated in July 2000 achieving the highest practical marks for his course. In Sept 2000 he then attended further 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 Lieutenant Commander 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 the 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.  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 XO until posting to the NZDF Command and Staff College in May 2009. 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.

This page was last reviewed on 19 January 2011.