Five days after its arrival in Wellington Harbour, the four-masted barque Pamir was seized in prize by the New Zealand government, which regarded Finland as ‘territory in enemy occupation’ (Finland had joined Nazi Germany’s invasion of their mutual enemy, the Soviet Union, but was not formally a member of the Axis powers).
Pamir was seized as prize by the Collector of Customs (Mr R. J. Gray) on 3rd August, 1941. Notice was served on Captain Bjorkfelt at 4.45pm that afternoon. The Pamir remains the only ‘enemy’ vessel ever to be seized by New Zealand and, as such, has immense historical significance.
Due to wartime shipping shortages, the barque was pressed into service as a New Zealand merchant vessel, mainly carrying wool and tallow to San Francisco and Vancouver. She was taken under the care of various official bodies and became the subject of legal issues for almost 5 months from the time of her seizure. As such, she was not legally released to the Crown until just over five months later on 9th December, 1941 and it was not until early February of the following year that she was prepared to take on her first New Zealand crew.