Army Reservists have the freedom of Auckland City
By Major Syd Dewes
With bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing, Colours flying and swords drawn, the 3rd Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) and Northland Battalion Group, 11/4 Artillery Battery, and 1 Field Engineer Troop, all in full dress uniform stepped off and down Queen Street, central Auckland to the loud cheers of an appreciative public gathered outside the Town Hall.
3rd Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) and Northland Battalion Group, 11/4 Artillery Battery, and 1 Field Engineer Troop march down Queen Street, central Auckland to the civic parade to receive a new Charter (AW-12-0222-2).
On Saturday 3 December 2011, bathed in bright sunshine, some 160 soldiers and officers formed up before the Mayor of Auckland, Mr Len Brown, at the civic parade to receive a new Charter.
Presenting the parchment charter to Colonel Grant Ellis the Honorary Colonel of 3 Auck North Battalion, the Mayor not only acknowledged the military's strong links with Auckland—they lie deep and in the case of the Mounted Rifles date back to the 1840s — he also acknowledged and expressed Auckland's appreciation of its servicemen and women's commitment and service to the nation. Until that point the Colours were kept encased and bayonets were sheathed until the new Charter had been presented.
Following the customary inspection and speeches there was a rousing massed haka performed with vigour and pride. It was well received and applauded by the then increasing number of spectators. Then, led by an Armoured Pinzgauer and the Colour Party comprising the 3 Auckland Battalion Colours and 11/4 Battery Colour Gun, the Parade stepped off under the command of Major Terry O'Neill DSD (currently the acting Commanding Officer of 3 Auck North while the CO, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Powell is in Timor Leste). The Artillery Band added to the occasion and helped keep the marchers in step.
The Charter Parade also marked a change of command status for 11/4 Artillery Battery and 1 Field Engineer Troop who now revert to under command their parent regiment units – 16 Field Regiment and 2 Engineer Regiment. They will remain based in Auckland at Arch Hill.
A very special moment was marked at the end of the parade when a contingent of ex-servicemen under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Tony McLeod formed up and saluted the parade before it was dismissed.
In attendance at the Charter Parade was also a number of officials and senior military officers including Colonel Bede Fahey, Deputy Commander 2 LFG, Colonel Barry Dreyer, the Colonel Commandant of the Royal New Zealand Artillery, Commanding Officer 16 Field Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Matt Boggs, the SAS Commanding Officer (name withheld), LTCOL Julian Sewell Commanding Officer 6 Hauraki Regiment, and Major Paul Curran of 2 Engineer Regiment.