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Safe hands representing NZ in front of Queen

Leading a warrior party, or taua, through the streets of London in front of hundreds of thousands of royal fans celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne could be very difficult to prepare for.

02 June, 2022

But the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Wal Wallace is probably the best-qualified person for the job, having performed a similar role in Paris for Bastille Day in 2016 and already meeting the Queen as her escort when the New Zealand Hyde Park Memorial to our war dead was unveiled in 2006.

The New Zealand Defence Force has a 40-strong contingent marching 3.2km through London for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant on 5 June in front of a crowd of up to one million. It includes a six-strong taua serving as a “scout party” for the main body.

The New Zealand contingent is the only one allowed such an individual expression from the militaries taking part.

Mr Wallace, of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, joined the RNZAF in 1981 and spent decades in uniform. He was part of the team that brought the Aermacchi MB-339 jet trainer aircraft into RNZAF service and part of the team that started the RNZAF on its bicultural journey – representing the service in many ceremonies and commemorations around the world.

He is now a civilian and manages the RNZAF Tūrangawaewae at Ohakea. He is tasked with representing the NZDF and Māori in front of a massive audience.

I’m looking forward to representing New Zealand, our Defence Force and particularly the Māori culture in the public arena and doing them all proud. 

“It means keeping up with the specific cultural skills required of me and my warrior team,” he said.

“Each warrior is an accomplished exponent of mau taiaha – or Māori weaponry – which has taken years of preparation.”

Mr Wallace said he was looking forward to paying tribute to Her Majesty.

“She served in the British Army during World War II and it makes her a warrior in every way.

“She has done some awesome work and has remained loved by the people. I’m proud to have met her and honoured to call her my Queen.”