After a three-year upgrade in Canada, the naval vessel HMNZS Te Mana has returned to New Zealand shores.
The frigate and her 170-strong crew sailed into Waitematā Harbour this morning with Minister of Defence Peeni Henare on board for a ceremonial homecoming.
Its systems upgrade includes new self defence missile technology, radar, and hull-mounted sonar.
She sailed more than 12,000 kilometres to get home following the re-fit by security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin Canada.
The navy set base in Devonport this morning for an extravagant ceremonial homecoming welcome to the 170 crew members that set sail more than three years ago.
Hundreds of family, friends and colleagues gathered at the naval base to welcome their arrival.
One of the ceremonial highlights was unexpected - as one Royal NZ Navy sailor brought the crowd of hundreds to "aww" as he proposed to his partner of three years.
Jacob Biddle proposed to his partner of three years, Takimoana Hawea, at the Devonport Naval Base on Friday morning.
Biddle told RNZ he was planning on this proposal ever since he left home about a year ago.
"Oh I was shaking! I loved it, it was perfect. I'm glad my darling's home," Hawea said.
She said yes - in an emotional reunion following a lengthy overseas deployment.
The 12,000km journey to get home was not exactly a smooth sail for many sailors.
One sailor said he sorely missed the pies.
"Keen for a pie - a decent pie! Will probably sort out shop on the way you know... Canadians don't know how to make pies."
Since taking office, the Labour government has committed approximately $4.5 billion to 12 major defence projects - including a $148 million funding boost for the Frigate Systems Upgrade work programme.
Today, the defence minister was on board the vessel to welcome the crew home.
"It's one of those challenging times where you leave a family that you've spent so much time with to come home to your actual family. So I wish them all the best," Henare said.
It was crucial to invest in the Navy defence force during this time, Henare said.
"What I know is New Zealanders are concerned for our security in these particular times. We've already seen what's happening in the Pacific, so we're hugely in support of these exercises and will continue to support them and so will this government," Henare said.
Australia and New Zealand will join Pacific nations in Fiji next week for the Pacific Island Forum, which is likely to be dominated by discussions of security because of the recent deal signed between China and the Solomon Islands.
Chief of Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor told RNZ the new self defence missile technology, sonar and radar will serve the country for decades.
"The ability to deliver the security outcomes that New Zealand wants is by working alongside higher end partners," he said.
"These ships - after the investment the government has made, represent a contemporary high end combat capability for New Zealand."
The Frigate Systems Upgrade is a complex programme of work overseen by the Ministry of Defence and undertaken by Lockheed Martin Canada, which delivered new radars, electronic detection and other above water systems, the self-defence missile system, decoys against missiles and torpedoes, an upgrade to the hull-mounted sonar, and the combat management system that integrates these upgrades.