No one was more surprised to be judged the winner of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s badge competition for its newest and largest ship, the future HMNZS Aotearoa, than Steven Knight, a Chief Petty Officer with the RNZN.
CAPTION: Chief of Navy Rear Admiral John Martin with winning badge designer Chief Petty Officer Steven Knight, his wife Julia and children Jake and Gemma. NZDF photo.
“I was stoked just to be selected in the top 10 to be honest,” Chief Petty Officer Knight said after being given the news of his win by Chief of Navy Rear Admiral John Martin.
“I just tried to produce something that contained all the elements that were important for a Navy ship that carried the name of our country” he said.
“I’ve always had an interest in art, right back to my school days, and in my spare time I pull out my sketch book – and a lot of my designs have a naval influence.”
Rear Admiral Martin said the sheer number and quality of entries for the new ship, which will be commissioned into service in early 2020, was impressive.
“It was wonderful that so many New Zealanders cared so much about our new ship that they wanted to submit a design,” Rear Admiral Martin said.
RNZN Ships’, Names and Badges Committee convened last year to review the more than 250 designs received.
They had no details of the designers, so their selection was impartial.
The panel reduced the submissions to a top 10, which were given to Chief of Navy in December to make the final decision.
“My design criteria were very clear,” Rear Admiral Martin said.
“I asked for designs that were simple yet striking, reflective of the role of the ship and uniquely New Zealand.
“While I had no idea who submitted the designs, Steven’s immediately stood out.
“The fish hook elegantly blended the Maori legend of Aotearoa’s origin with the replenishment role that the ship will be responsible for.
“Dividing the sea and sky, I saw the white band representing both a long white cloud and an ice shelf – very appropriate given the importance of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica to New Zealand.
“I was surprised and proud that the winner was one of Navy’s own and I’m thrilled for him.”
Chief Petty Officer Knight’s winning badge design will form the basis of the formal ship badge.
When HMNZS Aotearoa is commissioned in early 2020 it will not only be the new maritime sustainment vessel and fleet tanker but will also enhance combat operational capability, provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief and support monitoring operations in the Southern Ocean.
Rear Admiral Martin said he knew New Zealanders would be as proud of their new ship as the whole of the New Zealand Defence Force will be when she arrives.
Chief Petty Officer Knight works at the Devonport Naval Base as Project Manager responsible for inshore patrol vessels’ upkeep and maintenance.
Chief Petty Officer Knight’s description of the badge on his entry form:
This design represents the origin story of how Maui fished up New Zealand. This fishing hook represents both strength and dominance over the ocean, as well as replenishment and providing for its people. The engraving symbolises the bicultural aspect of New Zealand’s cultures, working together to be the protectors of our oceans (guardians of the seas). The background colours represent the ocean, skies and the land of the long white cloud. The fishing line is made of New Zealand flax and tied with a naval bow line. The design is a simple symbol of many of our aspects of both our role of the RNZN and the background of the country we protect.