April 2008 - Anzac Day in Marlborough
The call went out for volunteers to attend the Anzac day commemorations in Marlborough. Once again the ship’s company of HMNZS Olphert responded with enthusiasm.
Image Right: HMNZS Olphert during Anzac day commemorations in Marlborough (NIS-05-092).
Why Marlborough? The connection goes back many years now. For a start, the region demands a naval presence with the figures of Cook and d’Urville woven into the history of the region. Also, it should be remembered that HMNZS Wakakura, the inshore patrol craft attached to the Wellington Division of the RNZNVR had its home port at Picton. Olphert has therefore been sending a contingent to Picton for many years now on Anzac Day. Over the years the bonds with the local community have continued to grow. Each year these links are renewed and new friendships made.
Organising the weekend was not without its challenges. Getting a fully trained party of 26, leaving in three different vans to cover four ceremonies was no mean feat. With wakey-wakey at 0400, the party split into two to cover both Picton and Seddon with Lieutenant Commander Mike Stephens taking the service at the latter. The two groups were reunited at Renwick before continuing to Blenheim.
While Blenheim was easily the biggest ceremony – from the robust singing to the large parade of veterans, servicemen, scouts and other uniformed youths to the magnificent new RSA – each ceremony had its own poignancy and intimacy. No one with any sense of history could fail to be moved. From the first dawn service to the parade around the square at Blenheim, to the knees-up at the RSA in Blenheim, the crew behaved with decorum and with a sense of respect for the part they were playing in remembering those who had gone before: they were a credit to their division.