Despite their ship being laid up and undergoing upgrades in Canada, several members of HMNZS Te Kaha's crew are still on a mission — a mission to do their bit for their adopted home port of Napier.

Thirty-five of the ship's personnel, led by Lieutenant Commander Rob McCaw, arrived in the Bay by van and four-wheel drive instead of by sea last Friday to take part in the region's Armistice Day celebrations.

They also had several other missions on their posting here.

McCaw said it was all about putting something back into the community, as well as the wider community, of their adopted home port.


Which meant carrying out a native tree planting programme for one of the Te Kaha's affiliated trusts, the Hohepa School, as well as visits to Napier Boys' and Napier Girls' High Schools, where they spoke to students about leadership drills and skills.

They also engaged in a sports tournament against a mix of Napier Boy's High School boarders, coast whanau teams and cadets.

"We also did a beach clean-up," McCaw said.

And on Wednesday, the day before they were scheduled to return to their naval home port, they embarked on a couple of missions to carry out painting work at the whare-kai at Pukemokimoki Marae and some furniture shifting and garden work at the Napier Family Centre in Onekawa.

"Happy to do it," McCaw said, before chuckling at how Family Centre CEO Kath Curran dubbed the naval mission..."muscle power".

"We needed some muscle power to help shift furniture and do other work for us," Curran said.

The centre had become the new base for People's Advocacy Services since early September and it had transpired they needed more space — so a rooms and furniture shuffle was put on the work schedule.

When she was contacted by a Napier City Council representative last week to say the navy would be in town and happy to step in to do their bit for the community she was delighted.


"It's amazing — it really helps us out," Curran said, adding the option would have been getting the centre's volunteers in, over the weekend, to carry the work out.

"This way we can make use of their fantastic muscle," she said.

The navy crew also stepped up to help shift heavy pots and planters and rearrange a garden spot to make room for a specialised disabled parking area.

And while there they donated a large amount of food they had collected to help those in need.

"Napier is our home port and while our actual ship may be 12,000km away it is immensely important to us that our relationships in the region are upheld and strengthened."

He said Napier and the navy had a long history together and those ties ran deep.

"We are certainly looked after when we come to town and greatly appreciate the hospitality of this fantastic part of New Zealand."