Tauranga's streets were overrun this weekend by sailors with swords drawn, bayonets fixed and beating drums.

On Saturday more than 100 sailors marched down The Strand in a ceremonial parade to show the HMNZS Te Mana's special bond with the city.

The Navy ship had a 17-year relationship with Tauranga, its ceremonial home port where it was commissioned in 1999.

The ship was linked to Tauranga through a ceremonial charter which included the freedom of exercise in the city - hence the parade through the streets with colours flying, swords drawn and drums beating.


Mayor Stuart Crosby spoke to the crowd of about 200 people who gathered at The Strand and said it was a special day for Tauranga.

"It's an honour and a privilege to have the ship's company march through our streets.

"Today we are celebrating the relationship [with HMNZS Te Mana] and honouring the commitment and sacrifice of all New Zealanders who have served," Mr Crosby said.

The HMNZS Te Mana Commanding Officer Simon Griffiths said they were using ceremony and tradition to bond the ship's company and the people of Tauranga.

"We are very proud and very lucky to call the always sunny and beautiful Tauranga our home port," Mr Griffiths said.

The HMNZS Te Mana and its crew of 150 worked to advance New Zealand strategic interests from the sea, at home and abroad.

"The ship has travelled half a million nautical miles - that's the equivalent of 23 global circumnavigations," Mr Griffiths said.

The ship was leaving today and it was unknown when the next visit to Tauranga would be.

The ship was be heading up to Canada next year for an upgrade of its sensors and weapon systems to become one of the most modern frigates in the world.