Napier mayor salutes personal army

By ROGER MORONEY


Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott is used to being in the company of others - but not so familiar with being in the daily company of 15 well-armed troops.

The soldiers, from 7 Wellington/Hawke's Bay Battalion, have been escorting Mrs Arnott over the past week as her "personal protection" group. But ratepayers need not fret over the cost, as it is effectively on the house.

The unit is part of about 110 troops from throughout the region who have been engaged in annual Army exercises in the Bay.

Captain Matt Taylor said troops were involved in a series of "split routines" and one of them was to work as a protection unit.

"It has been an interesting exercise for both parties," Captain Taylor said.

Mrs Arnott agreed, saying she was happy to be the "protectee".

"But when they asked me about it, I thought it would be a corporal standing outside my office ... not 15 uniformed troops, all armed."

She has been travelling in one of three armoured vehicles the unit operates, and couldn't say enough about the professionalism and courtesy she had been shown.

"They drive me everywhere and ask me 'anything you need ma'am?' ... I could get used to this," she said and laughed.

But it was back to normal for her today as the personal protection unit moved on to other duties.

On Saturday, about 150 troops and the Army Band will lead one of the largest military parades seen in Napier in Emerson St from 12.30pm. The parade will embrace the presentation of the Queen's Colours at a service at the Sound Shell on its conclusion.

As well as the Army, the New Zealand and French navies will be represented in the parade with about 50 personnel from the HMNZS Rotoiti and the FN La Moqueuse, which will be in port.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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