It's not often a district mayor is drummed out of office. But last Friday outgoing Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis, an ex British Army officer, was sent off, not only with drums, but with bayonets fixed and flags unfurled as the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment paraded through town before being awarded the Tararua charter of freedom.
The historic freedom charter, the first for the Battalion, had taken Mr Ellis six years to achieve and it was an emotional and fitting farewell for his mayoral tenure.
"This is my best day in office," he said. "I believe charters are a great way of cementing relationships between community and the army and that relationships between the Tararua District Council and affiliated Regiment are very relevant. It's good for the people of Tararua to see the regiment colours unfurled, it's seldom seen."
Mr Ellis said he's always regretted the demise of national service training.
"Boys became men and comradeship abounded," he said.
Despite the Battalion's long history, this is the first charter bestowed on it, Colonel Ray Seymour, honorary colonel of the 1st Battalion, said. The Battalion was formed in Waiouru in July 1957 by reactivating the 1st Battalion of the New Zealand Regiment with the 2nd Battalion. Both had been formed in 1947 to take a role in the allied occupation of Japan. The Battalion was first deployed overseas in November 1957 and saw service in Malaya, Malaysia, Borneo and South Vietnam before returning to New Zealand in 1989.
"By remaining out of New Zealand for 32 years, this Battalion created history for a military unit to serve so long away from its homeland," Colonel Seymour said.
Since returning from Singapore to Linton in 1989 the Battalion has been deployed on active service and peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, East Timor, Afghanistan and many other locations around the world.
"Your region has a proud record of providing men and women to service Aotearoa, New Zealand, in times of war," Colonel Seymour said.
"The sacrifices made by this district are depicted by the 235 names of Boer War and World War I men and women inscribed on the Dannevirke war memorial. These include Sergeant Major William Edward Frost, DCM, Croix De Guerre. He was a plumber working in Dannevirke at the time of his enlistment and became a company sergeant major in the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington Infantry Regiment. He died of wounds on August 17, 1916. Captain Arthur Desmond Herrick, a farmer of Herbertville became a captain in the Wellington Mounted Rifles.
"He was killed in action on November 14, 1917, in Palestine. And there was the unselfish commitment of the five sons of Ellen and Charles Benbow of Ormondville. Five sons enlisted for service in WWI and two did not return.
"There were three sons of Helen and Birley Doria of Wimbledon who were killed in action in WWI as were the two sons of Katherine and John Mordin of London St, Dannevirke. We will remember them and New Zealand salutes this district for your contribution."