Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Navy to make Waitangi Day return

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) will return to playing an active role at the commemorations in the Bay of Islands this year after the 2022 Waitangi Day event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there will be a reduced presence of Navy personnel as the Auckland and Northland weather event has affected many sailors’ homes and property, and required the Navy to contribute to the civil response, RNZN said in a statement today.

Representing the Navy this year will be Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor.

“Attending Waitangi Day is always an absolute privilege for our Navy,” Rear Admiral Proctor said.

“Our relationship with the people of Te Tai Tokerau is of long-standing and built on mutual trust and respect. Unfortunately this year we won’t have the 100-person Royal Guard of Honour simply due to the impacts of the recent weather event on our Navy personnel.”

This year the Anzac-class frigate, HMNZS Te Mana, will be anchored off Waitangi.

Navy involvement in the commemorations will begin with the Navy Band performing at the Village Green in Paihia on Saturday, 4 February, which will be followed by a Sunset Ceremony at the Treaty Ground flagpole, where an RNZN Flag Party will conduct the ceremonial lowering of the New Zealand White Ensign which signifies the end of the day. This will be attended by the Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, Governor-General of New Zealand, who will be attending the Waitangi Day commemorations for the first time in the role.

The Royal New Zealand Navy Royal Guard of Honour stands to attention as HMNZS Wellington conducts a 21-gun salute at the 2021 celebration.

At midday on Monday, 6 February, HMNZS Te Mana will fire a 21-gun salute to observe the 183rd Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty documents at Waitangi whilst also parading a 25 person guard. The New Zealand Defence Force’s Māori Cultural Group will also give a series of performances on the Treaty Grounds.

From the outset, Waitangi commemorations have included naval involvement. From the day the Treaty was first signed on 6 February 1840 with the Royal Navy’s Captain William Hobson as consul for the British Crown and by Māori chiefs from the North Island, through to today.

Aside from the years interrupted by war, pandemic and weather, the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy, and from 1941 the Royal New Zealand Navy have participated at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

The NZDF Māori Cultural Group perform on the Treaty Grounds during the Waitangi Day commemoration in 2021.

In 1990 the Navy was presented with a Charter recognising the strength of the relationship between the Navy and the community in the region. The charter allows the Navy to parade on Te Tai Tokerau land and on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

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