The weather threatened to rain on the parade but it was theft from the navy band's bus that put a dampener on a military extravaganza in Whangarei.
New Zealand Navy Band members' personal possessions were stolen during the break-in on Saturday while the band was taking part in a military parade through the central city.
With bayonets fixed, drums beating, bands playing, colours flying and swords drawn, New Zealand Defence's 3rd Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) and Northland Battalion Group staged the first charter parade in Whangarei for 11 years.
"It went really well, it was brilliant, but the break-in of the navy band bus left a nasty taint to the day and given them a horrible reflection of Whangarei to take away with them," Major Roberta Wilkinson said.
Although bad weather delayed the parade's start, many people turned out to watch the colourful and archaic ritual that acknowledges a city's appreciation for a unit's service to the country. A charter parade is also a way for the services to pay tribute to the support of families, friends and work colleagues that enables local soldiers to deploy on operations overseas, Ms Wilkinson said.
When the parade reached the Whangarei Library plaza in Rust Ave, Mayor Morris Cutforth was presented with his New Zealand Defence Service Medal and then he conducted the ceremonial inspection.
The parade of 100 personnel was led by Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Chris Powell, with Northland Army, Navy and Air Force Cadets forming a cordon at Rust Ave before falling into the parade.
Apart from the bus break-in, the people of Whangarei had been welcoming and appreciative of the parade that had involved considerable Whangarei District Council and community help. - Police said the door of the locked bus parked in Rust Ave was jemmied open, and wallets, cellphones and other items stolen.