Pioneer was a 19th-century paddle-steamer gunboat used in New Zealand. Built in Sydney to the order of the New Zealand colonial government by the Australian Steam Navigation Company, she cost 9,500 pounds. Launched in 1863, she was towed across the Tasman Sea by HMS Eclipse, leaving Sydney on 22 September and arriving at Onehunga on 3 October 1863.
She was a flat-bottomed, stern-wheel paddle-steamer of 304 tons, made of 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) iron. She was 42.6 m long, 6 m beam, and drew only 0.9 m fully laden for travel on the Waikato River. With twin 30 hp engines and a 3.7 m (12 foot) stern wheel she had a speed of 9 knots. She had two iron cupolas or turrets, which were pierced for rifles and 12 pdr guns. The cupolas were 2.4 m (8 feet) high and 3.6 m (12 feet) in diameter.
She was manned by officers and men of the Royal Navy, two companies from HMS Curacoa; and flew the pendant of Commodore Sir William Wiseman of Curacoa. She proved of immense service in the skirmishing on the Waikato River in 1863 during the Waikato Campaign of the New Zealand Wars
In 1866 she was wrecked on the Manukau bar. The two turrets are on display in Mercer (as part of the war memorial) and Ngaruawahia. There are two engravings of her in action on the Waikato River in Ross and Howard, from the Illustrated London News.
Pioneer, 1863–1866, was New Zealand's first purpose-built warship
A turret on display at Ngaruawahia
- Howard, Grant (1981): The Navy in New Zealand pages 11–12 (Reed, Wellington) ISBN 0-589-01355-6
- Ross, J O’C (1967): The White Ensign in New Zealand pages 87–88 (Reed, Wellington)
- Taylor, T D (1948): New Zealand’s Naval Story pages 108-109 (Reed, Wellington)
- Miramar IndexEntry in the