Hundreds of people joined a parade in Auckland today to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the River Plate in World War II.
In what was the first naval engagement of the Second World War, three Royal Navy warships, including the New Zealand-crewed HMS Achilles, took on the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee off the coast of Uruguay.
The four surviving New Zealand veterans led the parade in vintage cars along Queen Street in a re-enactment of the heroes' welcome for the Achilles from tens of thousands of people when it returned in February 1940.
Another 317 New Zealanders served on the ship; two of them died in the engagement off the estuary of the River Plate before the German ship withdrew and was scuttled.
Today, more than 580 sailors joined the parade, along with the Royal New Zealand Navy Band, sea cadets and families of veterans who have died.
HMS Achilles was the first New Zealand warship to take part in a naval battle and the first New Zealand unit to strike a blow at the enemy in World War II.
The four veterans boarded HMNZS Te Kaha at Queens Wharf, where they were each awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
One of them, 92-year-old John Thomson, who flew from his home in Queensland, said it was an important day for him.
"I supposed mainly because I've lived to see this day, and to see so many people lining Queen Street is absolutely amazing."
Today's ceremony also included a wreath-laying ceremony.