Navy's 70th Anniversary

26 September 2011

The largest fleet of Royal New Zealand Navy ships that Wellington's ever hosted will visit this weekend.

From left: Otago, Te Kaha and Taupo alongside Queens Wharf, October 2010

From left: Otago, Te Kaha and Taupo alongside Queens Wharf, October 2010

Eleven ships, including the frigates Te Mana and Te Kaha, will be here to mark the 70th anniversary of King George VI granting New Zealand's Naval Forces royal recognition. Before 1941 our navy was a part of the Royal (British) Navy.

The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) ships start arriving on Thursday and will be an impressive sight for rugby fans, walking along the waterfront to games at the stadium. The frigate Te Kaha and sea-lift ship Canterbury will be among those berthed close to the Rugby Village FANZONE at Taranaki and Queens wharves. Others will dock at the Interisland Terminal No. 2, Overseas Passenger Terminal and Aotea Quay.

But, you'll be able to do more than admire our fleet from the shore. For a gold coin donation, five of them will be open to the public over the weekend from 12 noon to 4.00pm on Saturday and 11.00am to 4.00pm, Sunday.

Take a tour of our second largest ship Canterbury, which has recently returned from taking part in humanitarian exercises with the French and United States navies in the south Pacific. At last year's open day for the homecoming of one of our newest ships, HMNZS Wellington, 7500 people went aboard.

At least double that number are expected to visit the ships this weekend. As well as the open days, there'll be a changing of the RNZN Queen's Colour at Parliament grounds. This is only the fourth time the Queen's / King's Colour has changed since 1941. Colours are recognised as a fleet's most-prized possession. In olden times they were seen as a rallying point and if a ship struck (lowered) her colours in battle, it was the recognised symbol of defeat. If you want to see this historically significant ceremony, make sure you're at Parliament grounds by 9.00am on Saturday.

Then at 12 noon, 400 sailors will parade down Lambton Quay, from Parliament to Civic Square, where they'll be received by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. If you're heading down to see the parade or check out the ships, be aware that there will be a rolling road closure around the parade, so expect some delays (see below).

It's going to be a big weekend in the Capital. Not only is the Navy holding its celebrations, but the All Blacks are playing their only Wellington Rugby World Cup 2011 match against Canada on Sunday afternoon and France play Tonga on Saturday.

Road Closures

There'll be a rolling road closure around the Royal New Zealand Navy Parade on Saturday (1 October). The parade starts at 12 noon from Parliament, travels along Lambton Quay, Willis, Mercer and Victoria streets and finishes at Civic Square.

You can expect some disruption and delays in the central city around this time for about 30 minutes.