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NZDF Jubilee contingent readying to march onto world stage

The New Zealand Defence Force’s marching contingent is preparing itself for a baptism by crowd fire ahead of the massive celebration that will be Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant in London.

02 June, 2022

The 40-strong marching party has been rehearsing at Pirbright Army Training Centre in Surrey for Sunday’s Pageant, which is expected to draw tens of thousands to central London and attract a television audience of up to one billion.

They will be marching among Commonwealth military representatives and will stand out as the largest of the Commonwealth parties and also being led by a six-strong taua, or warrior party.

An early-morning dress rehearsal – around 4am on the quiet streets - was held around The Mall and Buckingham Palace earlier in the week to familiarise them with the route.

The NZDF contingent takes part in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant rehearsal through the early morning London streets

The NZDF contingent takes part in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant rehearsal through the early morning London streets

The NZDF contingent takes part in the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant rehearsal through the early morning London streets

Contingent drill instructor, Chief Petty Officer Shane Dixon, originally from Napier, said that “gave us a sense of occasion. Of course missing the crowd that’s going to be there on the day”.

“There were some issues with the band and the music… when the crowd is there cheering it might be difficult to hear the beat of the bass drum.

“But things are coming along. We are improving with every rehearsal.”

Second Lieutenant Elese Russell, from Whangarei, will be the contingent flag-bearer and was presented with the NZDF’s Nga Tapuwae Kahu Huruhuru cloak at Devonport Naval Base before the group left New Zealand.

Woven by Warrant Officer First Class Robert Jobe, the feathered cloak has been worn by NZDF achievers since 2016, including Willie Apiata and Sir Robert ‘Bom’ Gillies.

Second Lieutenant Elese Russell will wear the NZDF’s Nga Tapuwae Kahu Huruhuru cloak as flagbearer.

The enormity of the occasion was now becoming apparent, especially after the London rehearsal.

“I think the Queen’s Jubilee is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I feel honoured to carry my country’s flag at such a special event,” she said.

“She has broken so many records due to the length of her service. I think it’s pretty remarkable for her to dedicate her life to service since the age of 21. I’m sure she’ll hold the record for the longest British monarch for a long time, so the Queen’s Jubilee celebration really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this generation.

Contingent lead Commander Kerry Tutty

Commander Kerry Tutty, the contingent commander, acknowledged there would be pressure on the NZDF as one of the largest Commonwealth contingents but was confident they would be properly prepared.

“I am looking forward to taking in the atmosphere of this incredible milestone. I’m most excited for the world to see our diverse ceremonial demonstration of who we are as Aotearoa New Zealand.”