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RNZAF Base Auckland takes Queen’s Colour, farewells Orion at Change of Command parade

Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland has marked three significant milestones as it takes custody of the Queen’s Colour, changes commanders and farewells one of its long-serving P-3 Orions.

29 July, 2022

The Queen’s Colour – a ceremonial flag presented to the RNZAF by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and a symbol of her trust in the personnel of the RNZAF - has spent the past three years at RNZAF Base Ohakea but after today’s parade its custody is the responsibility of the Whenuapai air base.

In a “Formation Thunder” flypast, a Boeing 757 led the Orion, NZ4204, on its last flight before being retired from service at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. The Orions have served in the RNZAF since the 1960s and will soon be replaced by Boeing P-8A Poseidons.

Thirty-one-year helicopter veteran, Group Captain Mike Cannon, who has served in Bougainville and East Timor, has taken command of the base

“I started my RNZAF career at RNZAF Base Auckland while serving on No. 3 Squadron at Hobsonville, so coming back to Auckland feels very familiar. The opportunity to be part of a very high-performing team is a real honour.”

RNZAF Base Auckland, established in 1937, is the largest operational RNZAF air base and supports tactical and strategic air mobility across the globe, and air surveillance and response in the South Pacific and Southern Ocean. 

It is home to No. 5 Squadron, No. 6 Squadron and No. 40 Squadron, which operate Orion aircraft, Seasprite helicopters, and Hercules and Boeing aircraft respectively.

Group Captain Andy Scott, left, hands command to incoming Base Commander Group Captain Mike Cannon

After 55 years with the RNZAF, NZ4204 flew its final flight today as part of a Formation Thunder flypast with a Boeing 757 over Base Auckland

New RNZAF Base Auckland Commander Group Captain Mike Cannon with the base’s taiaha symbol of command

The RNZAF haka is performed

Group Captain Cannon believes the base has a bright future, with significant investment planned in capabilities and infrastructure which will modernise the force to face the next challenges.

“With growing threats of climate change and strategic competition being so significant in our region, Base Auckland will continue to be operationally focused and will build upon our proud history of supporting our Pacific friends and neighbours.”

Group Captain Andy Scott took over the role of Base Commander in 2019 and said he was proud the base had been able to deliver military air operations through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He will now take up a posting in the United Kingdom.