September 3 will be recognised by the Government as Merchant Navy Day, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson announced today.
The Merchant Navy played a critical role during wartime, transporting troops, military equipment and vital cargo around the world, under the constant threat of enemy raids.
"No other group of New Zealand civilians faced such risks during wartime," Mr Finlayson said. "Recognising this day acknowledges the contribution and sacrifice made during wartime by a remarkable group of men."
Their work was so essential to the war effort that the Merchant Navy became regarded as the fourth service, alongside the army, navy and air force
"During the Second World War, at least 130 New Zealand merchant seamen lost their lives maintaining our economic lifeline and supplying allied forces with essential supplies and reinforcements," Mr Finlayson said.
"We are happy to have worked with a broad range of individuals and groups such as the Merchant Navy Association, in honouring the memory of these brave New Zealanders".
Commemorations will be held annually at the National War Memorial in Wellington, involving veteran, military and maritime organisations. Regional commemorations will also be held around the country.
Updated on 23rd July 2015