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From pram photo to Royal Pageant parade ground for Southland woman

Forty-five years ago, Denise Kingi was sitting in her pram in Invercargill while her grandmother shook the hand of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

03 June, 2022

“We didn’t believe Nana until we saw the photo years later in a royal magazine,” Denise said.

“The Queen shook my Nana’s hand during her whirlwind visit to Queens Park in 1977 and I was there in the pram with my parents.”

Now, with a distinguished 31-year Royal New Zealand Navy career behind her, the Winton-born Chief Petty Officer will again brush shoulders with Her Majesty when, as part of a New Zealand Defence Force contingent, she marches down London’s The Mall as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant on 5 June, celebrating 70 years on the throne. The Queen is head of New Zealand’s Armed Forces and holds colonelcies in a number of units.

Chief Petty Officer Kingi has had her naval uniform tailored to look her sharpest and learned the NZDF haka for the occasion. Last-minute rehearsals are taking place at a British Army camp in Surrey.

Around 2000 military personnel from Commonwealth countries are taking part in front of an expected London crowd of one million and a television audience of one billion.

The sheer size of this parade and jubilee celebration and being fortunate enough to be an active part of the parade. Having 600 horses in the parade is something I would never see or experience in a parade in New Zealand.

Chief Petty Officer Kingi has just come off long stints taking part on Operation Protect, the NZDF’s support to the Government’s COVID-19 response. This included coordinating Managed Isolation and Security roles.

She admits the work, and additional hours, put pressure on her family time and the Jubilee march is something of a reward and she is keen to represent New Zealand at a milestone event for the longest-reigning monarch in history.

“Serving in the military is a unique privilege representing self, family, service, NZDF and country. The biggest sacrifice we make the day we attest is the willingness to put your life at the fore front.

“I am fortunate that our Defence Force has not been subjected to the large-scale raw reality of war during my service, however, acknowledge daily those that have done so before us. I am proud to serve my country, it has shaped me as a person.”