A special and unique Armistice Day commemoration was held at Hastings District Council today, with the transfer of a significant historic Regimental Guidon (military flag) into the hands of the New Zealand Army for temporary safekeeping at Linton Military Camp.
In 1935, the Guidon of Queen Alexandra’s Waikato/Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles Squadron was consecrated and presented to the Wellington and East Coast regiment by the Bishop of Waiapu and Major General Sir Andrew Russell, and placed at St Matthew’s Church for safekeeping.
For the last 60 years, however, it has hung in the Hastings District Council civic administration building – initially in the chambers and later transferred to the foyer.
Its special significance lies in the fact that its resting place is in a council building rather than a military camp, church or museum. It was moved from the Church to acknowledge the bond between the regiment and the community represented by the Council.
In addition, its colours differ from the usual crimson and gold – being stripes of black and white silk damask, signifying the Hawke’s Bay region.
It also features 11 battle honours that were earned during WW1 by the Wellington East Coast squadron.
It is being temporarily transferred to Linton for safekeeping while Council deliberates over the best way to give it the prominence it deserves back in the council chamber.
Ahead of the blessing and handing over the memorabilia, Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said she was proud and privileged to be recognising the importance of this Guidon.
“It’s a significant taonga of the district and the city, and a reminder of the need to retain the long-standing and strong relationship we have had with the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles Squadron.
“When it is returned to us in March next year we will know about and appreciate it more, and it will be reinstated in the Council chamber to ensure it is given a position of mana.”
Today’s formalities included council and community, RSA, Police and Regiment representatives, who observed the Guidon being taken from the glass case it has been locked in in the council foyer, blessed, and carried to a Light Armoured Vehicle to be escorted to Manawatu.
Prayers were led by the head boy and girl from St Joseph’s Primary School.
Royal New Zealand Army Corps Major Tom Purcell thanked the Mayor and the people of Hastings for keeping the Guidon safe and conducting today’s ceremony.
“It’s poignant we do this today, 103 years after the end of the Great War where so many brave young soldiers from this region gave their lives.
“This Guidon commemorates those men in faraway lands who fought for our country and honours those who fell.
“We look forward to when we can return it to the people of Hastings – its rightful home.”
A charter parade is planned for when the Guidon is returned to Hastings, to mirror the military pageantry that accompanied its consecration in 1935.
Those gathered also took part in an Armistice Day remembrance ceremony outside the council building at 11am to acknowledge the end of the First World War with the signing of an Armistice between the Allied Forces and Germany on November 11, 1918.
18 November 2021
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