2010 Lt.Cmdr Wiremu Leef, HMNZS Manawanui

 Lieutenant  Commander  Wiremu  Leef 
HMNZS   Manawanui

Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef's change of command ceremony, held Friday 28th March 2010.  The photo is of LCdr Leef who is the new Commanding Officer of HMNZS MANAWANUI (ship in background)


Wiremu Leef is the eldest of two sons and his parents were Laurie and Cindy (Wynyard) Leef. Wiremu's younger brother is Waaka and both with their respective partners, reside in Tamaki Makaurau.  Wiremu’s grandparents were Sam (Biggs) and Mary (Clarke) Wynyard who lived with their children in the Karetu Valley. Wiremu’s mother Cindy lays at Pūhangahau Urupa, Karetu. Wiremu always enjoys coming home to Northland (when he is in NZ waters) and his Uncle Clarke Wynyard and cousin Rewi live on the family "Hill”.

 Lieutenant Commander Leef (right) took over from Lieutenant Commander Phil Rowe and part of the ceremony is the handing over of the ship symbol of command and in MANAWANUI's case it is a dive helmet.


Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef's change of command ceremony was held this morning. The Top photo is of Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef who is the new Commanding Officer of HMNZS MANAWANUI which is the Navy diving support ship (ship in background)

Lieutenant Commander Leef (above photo) took over from Lieutenant Commander Phil Rowe and part of the ceremony is the handing over of the ship symbol of command and in MANAWANUI's case it is a dive helmet. (Phil Rowe on the right) In the background is the Maritime Component Commander, Commodore Ross Smith who proceeded over the change of command ceremony.

During his speech, Wiremu Leef acknowledged the outgoing commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Phil Rowe, by saying " I would like to acknowledge Lieutenant Commander Phil Rowe  for providing me with a very professional and capable team onboard MANAWANUI. Under his command the ship achieved a great deal and I look forward to continuing where he left off."Also in his speech he said " In English MANAWANUI means "to be brave and steadfast", which is fitting for a ship and crew who as far as I am concerned is exactly that"

"I leave you with the Maori proverb "Kia Kaha, Kai Maia, Kia MANAWANUI"- Kia Kaha, with strength and comradeship we can achieve anything - Kia Maia, our courage will be renowned throughout the fleet - Kia MANAWANUI, we will be steadfast in our commitment to the Navy."

xSource: Lieutenant Sarah Campbell I Senior Media Adviser (Navy)
Defence Communications Group I Devonport Site

NZDF website: navy@nzdf.mil.nz

Bay of Islands College Old Boy at helm of Navy ship

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”. 

“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" 

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.. 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

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

HMNZS Manawanui in the Hauraki Gulf

A sailor comes home

11 May 2010

 Lieutenant Commander Wiremu Leef would not be able to begin counting how many times his ships have dropped anchor since he joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1991 as a fleet midshipman, but heaving in to the Bay of Islands last week had special significance. 

HMNZS Manawanui, which Lt Cdr Leef took command of in March arrived at Paihia on Friday, delivering her master to his old stomping ground. 

A party of students from Whangaroa College was given a tour of the dive tender while she was off Paihia, but Lt Cdr Leef and members of his crew were welcomed to Bay of Islands College, his old school, where they talked to students about the opportunities that would be available to them when they completed high school. 

HMNZS Manawanui, berthed at Opua later on Friday and sailed again yesterday. 

Extract: The Northland Age, Tuesday May 11, 2010

Portrait Photo (Top): c/- Peter de Graaf, Far North Photographer, Northern Publishings from Defence Communications, Royal New Zealand Navy - Te Taua Moana o Aotearoa.

 BOIC Student, Jonty Hooson, fires the Navy's Steyr automatic rifle, a highlight for the boys!

LC Leef guiding the Navy dive tender HMNZS Manawanui into Opua LC Leef with BOIC Students and HMNZS Manawanui at Opua Wharf, Fri 7th May 2010 
The Karetu boy’s done well

13 May 2010

 Anyone wanting proof that growing up in the backblocks of Northland is any impediment to success need look no further than Wiremu Leef.

The boy from Karetu, a tiny settlement east of Kawakawa, was back home last week to visit his old high school. But this time instead of a Bay of Islands College outfit, he was wearing the uniform of a Lieutenant Commander in the Royall New Zealand Navy.

Lt Cdr Leef, commanding officer of the dive tender HMNZS Manawanui, said it “felt funny” to walk back into the school hall for the first time in 20 years.

“But it was good to go back to my old school. I wanted to show the students there are lots of things you can do when you leave school. Being in the Navy is just one direction they can go,” he said.

He had geared his presentation for the students and things they could relate to, using examples from his own time at the Kawakawa school, and showed slides of places he’d seen since joining the Navy in 1991, including most of the Pacific, South East Asia, the Middle East and North America.

He had been second in command of the frigate HMNZS Te Mana for two years on patrol in the Arabian Gulf, but his new posting to the Manawanui was his first time in command.

Students from Bay of Islands College and Whangaroa College who had previously shown interest in Navy careers were taken out to the ship for a first-hand look, their tour including the bridge, sleeping quarters, galley, workshop and engine room as the 900-tonne dive tender steamed to Opua. They were also shown the Navy’s Steyr automatic rifles, a highlight of some of the boys.

Tyrone MacInnes, 16, declared Friday’s tour “awesome”. “I’ve been trying to decide what to do after school, and this is looking like an option,” he said. “There’s a sense that it doesn’t matter what you’re good at – there’s so much you can do, there’s something for everyone. Plus you get to travel, and you get to blow up stuff.”

Navy recruiting officer Isaac Lenden, of Kaeo, said the visit had sparked very strong interest.“We get a lot of good candidates from Northland,” he added. “People in rural communities are used to taking responsibility and like to give things a go.”

The Manawanui was built in the UK in 1979, 43 metres long, she has a displacement of 911 tonnes and a range of 5,000 nautical miles. She carries a crew of 20 and a team of seven divers, who can go as deep as 100 metres.Her more recent missions included and attempt to recover victims of the Princess Ashika, in Tonga. The sunken ferry was located but was too deep for recovery.

Extract: The Northland Age, Tuesday May 13, 2010

Photos:  c/- Peter de Graaf, Far North Photographer, Northland Age, Northern Publishings.

Page last updated 5 Mar 2017