Coromandel farewells Royal Navy boat for last time 31 January 2018 HMNZS Manawanui and her crew were welcomed with a powhiri by local iwi Ngati Hei representative Joe Davis as they arrived in Whitianga for ceremonies and parades from today until 5 February ahead of its official decommissioning on 23 February at Devonport. Whitianga is the home port for Manawanui, though it is not permanently based there. "I would like to say a big thank you to the HMNZS Manawanui crew," says our Mayor Sandra Goudie. "I came on their trip from Auckland to Whitianga and it was fantastic. I even had a snooze, slept like a baby and was not at all sea sick." "This morning was about welcoming them into the area which they have a very special relationship with and is important to them, and to us," says Mayor Sandra. Manawanui and its crew of 24 have a long association with Whitianga and have visited over the years to take part in Anzac Day commemorations and other events. "This is an emotional time for all those involved in the final farewell to the Manawanui as they have a strong emotional attachment to the ship and every step is a ritual towards the final sign -off of the ship being operational," says Mayor Sandra. The ship will be berthed at the Whitianga Wharf for most of its visit with minor disruption expected to wharf users during her stay. This is being managed with assistance from the crew and in discussion with commercial operators. "This is the final chance to have a close-up look at the ship and even go aboard during an open day on 4 February, which means a lot to the crew and to the people in the community as well," says Mayor Sandra. Manawanui is the Royal New Zealand Navy's diving and mine counter-measures ship and was commissioned into the Navy in 1988. She was built in the UK in 1979 as a diving support vessel, the Star Perseus, for North Sea oil rig operations. She is fitted with a triple lock compression chamber, a wet diving bell, a 15 tonne crane and workshop facilities including electric and gas welding equipment and a lathe. She has a four-point anchoring system to keep the ship in position when undertaking diving operations. Manawanui is the third ship of this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy. The name translates as "Big Heart". Manawanui, and the hydrographic ship HMNZS Resolution, which was decommissioned in 2012, are being replaced by a single ship which will carry out both functions. HMNZS Manawanui's itinerary for its final visit to Whitianga: 1 February - Parade from wharf with naval crew to Soldiers' Memorial for a service and speeches from the Navy Commodore and our Mayor Sandra Goudie. Following this, there will be a march to the RSA at the Mercury Bay Club at 69 Cook Dr for an exchange of gifts. Over the following few days the ship's crew will carry out community service, attend functions at the Matarangi and Whitianga Fire Brigade stations. 4 February - Manawanui will be open to visitors.5 February - HMNZS Manawanui sails from Whitianga wharf at 11:50am and people will have a chance to wave her off. If you are interested in watching some of this morning's arrival check out our Facebook page here. Mayor Sandra aboard HMNZS Manawanui.