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Navy to Have Large Presence at Waitangi

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy inspecting the Royal Guard of Honour at Waitangi last year.
Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy inspecting the Royal Guard of Honour at Waitangi last year.

1 February 2018

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) will have a large presence as it continues its traditional involvement in Waitangi Day activities in the Bay of Islands this year.

The RNZN is invited annually by the people of Tai Tokerau to attend Waitangi Day activities, and plays a significant part in the commemorative ceremonies.

The RNZN representatives this year will be Rear Admiral John Martin, the Chief of Navy, and his Deputy, Commodore Mat Williams.

This year the RNZN warship HMNZS Canterbury will anchor off Waitangi from 2-7 February, while HMNZS Otago will be alongside Opua Wharf from 3-5 February.

A Beat Retreat and Sunset Ceremony will take place at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds flagpole on Monday, 5 February. A Royal Guard of Honour comprising more than 100 sailors, the RNZN Band and a Maori Cultural Group will conduct the ceremonial lowering of the New Zealand White Ensign, signifying the end of the day. This will be reviewed by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The RNZN Band will perform two concerts on Paihia Village Green, at 11am and 2pm on Sunday, 4 February.

From the outset, Waitangi commemorations have included naval involvement – first with Royal Navy ships and officers, and more latterly with the RNZN, which paraded at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds for the first time in 1947 after being granted access by the Waitangi National Trust.

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

At midday on Tuesday, 6 February, the HMNZS Canterbury will fire a 21-gun salute to mark the 178th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Firing such salutes developed from the naval tradition of visiting warships firing their cannons until all ammunition aboard was spent, demonstrating they were disarmed and had no hostile intent. Today all salutes are fired with blank cartridges.

NAVY PROGRAMME

Friday, 2 February
4pm                                 HMNZS Canterbury anchors in the bay

Saturday, 3 February
Midday:                          HMNZS Otago berths alongside Opua Wharf

Sunday, 4 February
8.30am-11.30am:          HMNZS Otago Open to the public (free entry) – Opua Wharf
11am-midday:                RNZN Band Concert at Paihia Village Green
2pm-3pm:                       RNZN Band Concert at Paihia Village Green

Monday, 5 February
Midday:                           HMNZS Otago departs Opua Wharf to anchor in the bay
4.45pm-5.30pm:            Beat Retreat and Sunset ceremony, with the Governor-General as Reviewing Officer

Tuesday, 6 February
5am:                               Dawn Service
10am:                             Church Service, Chief of Navy and Principal Navy Chaplain
11.15am-11.30pm:       RNZN Maori Cultural Group perform on the Treaty Grounds
11.30am-11.50am:       RNZN Band concert at Treaty Grounds flagpole
Midday:                          Guard of Honour forms at the flagpole – 21-gun salute from HMNZS Canterbury
Midday:                          Seasprite helicopter flyover
5pm:                               Closing ceremony – Beat Retreat and Sunset Ceremony, with the Chief of Navy as Reviewing Officer

Wednesday, 7 February
4pm                               HMNZS Canterbury and Otago depart the bay

Beat Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset Description

The “Beat Retreat” ceremony is a military custom that dates back to at least 1557 and has been defined as “A beat of the drum, at the firing of the evening gun”.

The gun was fired to mark the change from day to night. It is followed by a ceremonial sunset. “Sunset” is a short ceremony performed every night on naval ships and military camps, when the ensign (flag) is lowered for the night. This traditionally signalled the cessation of any hostilities overnight while at war. A ceremonial sunset is a formal recognition of the naval tradition of saluting and lowering the ensign at sunset each day in harbour, although it does not actually occur at sunset. It can be used to provide a formal conclusion to events, and at Waitangi signifies the ceremonial end of the day.

Before the Beat Retreat, The Governor-General will inspect the Royal Guard of Honour, which parades as a ceremonial mark of respect to the Governor-General and the occasion of Waitangi Day. The size of the guard reflects the royal ceremonial honour, and it will parade the “Queen’s Colour”, a ceremonial ensign dedicated by the Governor-General on behalf of the Queen.

The first part of the ceremony will be performed by the RNZN Band, while the Royal Guard of Honour marches into position. Once the guard is in position, VIPs and guests will be invited to move towards the flagpole.

At sunset the Guard will present arms and a single evening gun will be fired from the RNZN ship HMNZS Canterbury, which will be anchored off the Treaty grounds.

A bugler will play Sunset over the evening hymn, during which time the New Zealand White Ensign will be lowered.

After the ceremony the Guard and Band will retire and guests will depart.


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