Gun salutes are symbolic. They're a show of respect for an important authority. There are three types of gun salute: those fired annually marking specific occasions; those fired marking special occasions; and those fired in honour of visiting dignitaries.
What gun salutes are for
The practice of firing gun salutes grew from naval tradition. An approaching warship would fire its cannons to show that its guns were empty, demonstrating they were unloaded and they had no hostile intent. Today all salutes are fired with blank cartridges - be it artillery, ship's guns, or small arms.
Prime Ministers and Heads of Government on official visits to New Zealand are accorded a 19-gun salute conducted as part of their state welcome ceremony. The location of the ceremony determines the location of the gun salute and the gun battery.
With the prior approval of CDF, a gun salute may also be fired in New Zealand during special ceremonies.
21 Gun Salutes
The 21-gun salutes fired annually and on designated state occasions as detailed above are fired by the Army’s 16th Field Regiment at Point Jerningham using the four 25-pounder guns that are stored at that location. On occasions when a 21-gun salute is conducted as part of a state welcome ceremony, the gun salute is usually fired from the grounds of Government House using four 105mm L119 Light Guns.
21-gun salutes are fired on state occasions such as:
- The Swearing-In Ceremony for the Governor-General
- The Farewell Ceremony for the Governor-General
- The State Opening of Parliament.
41 Gun Salutes
On April 11, 2021, a 41-gun salute was held in Wellington in honour of Prince Philip.
Within the New Zealand Defence Force, the Duke held the ranks of Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Field Marshal of the New Zealand Army, and Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
The traditional number of gun salutes is 21, but on certain occasions an extra 20 rounds are added when fired from a royal park or setting.
Death Gun Salute for Queen Elizabeth II
On September 9, 2022, the 16th Field Regiment fired 96 rounds - one round for every year of Her Majesty’s life. Similar gun salutes were fired to mark the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965.
Death Gun Salute marking the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
When and where to experience a gun salute
21-gun salutes are fired annually from Point Jerningham in Wellington for:
|The Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III
|The birthday (official as observed in New Zealand) of His Majesty King Charles III
||1st Mon June
|The birthday of Her Majesty The Queen Consort
|The accession of His Majesty King Charles III
|The birthday (actual) of His Majesty King Charles III||14 November
Watch the 16th Field Regiment, Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery, fire a 100-Gun Salute supporting the Armistice Centenary National Ceremony in Wellington.
The salute was also part of a joint salute alongside British, Australian and Canadian artillery regiments around the world.
100-Gun Salute supporting the Armistice Centenary National Ceremony