February 15, 2017 – The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) will continue its traditional involvement in the Tremains Art Deco Festival in Napier this year.
The offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington and the inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Taupo will join the festival this weekend. Wellington was also part of last year’s festival, with crews taking part in several events, including parades and the commemorative breakfast.
The Veronica Bell Ceremony at the Sound Shell on Sunday will remember the role the New Zealand Squadron of the Royal Navy (which later became the Royal New Zealand Navy) played after a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Hawke’s Bay on 3 February, 1931, killing 256 people.
When the massive earthquake struck, HMS Veronica was alongside West Quay in Napier and provided immediate help. HMS Dunedin and HMS Diomede sailed from Auckland with medical supplies and personnel, arriving the next morning.
The presence of Veronica was very fortuitous because all communications equipment on the land was damaged in the quake and the sole means of alerting the outside world to the disaster and maintaining communication were through the Veronica.
The Veronica Bell Ceremony is a time for reflection and to remember those who perished and is one of the most poignant moments of the weekend. A guard from the ship’s company of HMNZS Wellington will perform a military ceremony at the Sound Shell at midday on Sunday.
The RNZN Band will be busy at the festival, starting with a charity concert at the Napier Municipal Theatre on Friday at 12.30pm, with proceeds going to charity. It will also perform at the Sound Shell on Saturday from 9pm, playing 1930s tunes from Glenn Miller and other big band performers.
“The Navy is really part of the Art Deco Festival and their role recognizes the special historical connections with the people of Hawke’s Bay,” Regional Naval Officer, Lieutenant Commander Neville Smith, said.
For a full program of events go to http://www.artdeconapier.com/