Frigate guests get shot at sailors' rum ritual

By Scott Kara

By SCOTT KARA

Guests on board the frigate HMNZS Te Mana on Auckland Anniversary Day will re-enact the much-loved sailors' ritual of the daily rum ration.

The New Zealand Navy was the last Navy in the world to stop the rum ration, in 1990.

Te Mana will anchor off Orakei Wharf as the guard ship for the 160th New Zealand Herald Anniversary Day Regatta on January 31.

As well as invited guests, such as the Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, and possibly the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, the public will have a chance to spend the day on the ship.

Guests on Te Mana will get a tour of the ship, a three-course lunch and a view of the day's racing from the middle of the Waitemata.

Lieutenant-Commander Jim Kerry said the rum ration could still be issued to sailors on special occasions. But the Anniversary Day rum-tasting was seen as more of a re-enactment to celebrate Auckland's birthday.

Commander Kerry said the rum ration was stopped because of advances in naval technology.

"Giving people about a quarter of a pint [118ml] of spirits a day was not compatible with a modern fighting force," he said.

The naval tradition had its origins in the West Indies during the 1700s.

Cliff Heywood, collections manager at the Navy Museum, said rum became the Royal Navy's traditional drink because it was the drink of choice in the West Indies at the time.

"Then to make it fair for everybody in the Navy it spread.

"It's just one of the traditions of the service."

There are still eight tickets left for the lunch on board Te Mana and bookings can be made on 376-4409. Tickets cost $200 and proceeds go to the Spirit of Adventure Trust. Organisers hope to raise between $10,000 and $15,000 for the trust.

The 160th regatta is expected to attract 1000 entries, making it the largest one-day regatta in the world.

Organisers say the activities will not be confined to the water and land, with Air Force aircraft flying up from Ohakea to put on a display.

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