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Royal New Zealand Navy readying for Waitangi commemorations

After the 2022 Waitangi Day event was cancelled due to COVID-19, and following the devastation caused by weather events last year, the Navy is looking forward to once again playing a full and active role at commemorations in the Bay of Islands in 2024.

02 February, 2024

Every year on 6 February, New Zealanders and visitors gather at Waitangi to mark the 1840 signing of Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding document - Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi.

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) is invited annually by the people of Te Tai Tokerau to attend Waitangi Day and perform a range of ceremonial duties.

Representing the RNZN this year will be Chief of Navy Rear Admiral David Proctor and Deputy Chief of Navy Commodore Andrew Brown, along with a large number of Navy personnel.

“Attending Waitangi Day is the ceremonial highlight of the year for our Navy and always an absolute privilege to be part of,” Rear Admiral Proctor said.

“Our relationship with the people of Te Tai Tokerau is long-standing and built on mutual trust and respect. 

“This day is a taonga for our nation and we’re grateful we can once again share it with the people of this region, other Kiwis and visitors alike.” 

This year the RNZN’s dive, hydrographic and salvage vessel HMNZS Manawanui will be anchored off Waitangi from Sunday 4 February to Tuesday 6 February. 

On Monday 5 February, the ship will be taking to sea 20 senior secondary students from high schools throughout Te Tai Tokerau, giving them an idea of what a career in the Navy could look like.  

RNZN involvement in the annual commemorations will include the RNZN Band performing at the Village Green in Paihia on Sunday 4 February, with a Beat Retreat and Ceremonial Sunset Ceremony at the Treaty Ground flagpole on the evening of Monday 5 February.

A 100-person Royal Guard of Honour will conduct the ceremonial lowering of the New Zealand White Ensign, signifying the end of the day. This will be reviewed by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Dame Cindy Kiro, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand.

At midday on Waitangi Day, Tuesday 6 February, HMNZS Manawanui will fire a 21-gun salute to observe the 184th Anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The New Zealand Defence Force Māori Cultural Group will also give a series of performances on the Treaty Grounds.

From the outset, Waitangi Day commemorations have included naval involvement. It was Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand Captain William Hobson, Royal Navy, who, along with Māori rangatira (chiefs), signed Te Tiriti on 6 February 1840 as an agreement between the British Crown and Māori.

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

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 Te Tai Tokerau land and on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.