It seemed fitting that a day commemorating one of the most important times in British history was marked in Tauranga with typical English weather.
Grey skies and rain greeted more than 100 people who arrived at Classic Flyers to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, yesterday.
Surrounded by relics of aviation history, the crowd gathered - chilled by the cool breeze rolling through the doors and the eerie sound of the Last Post echoing against the metal walls.
The Curtis Stearman and the De Havilland Harvard roared over Mount Maunganui about 10am - a tribute from Classic Flyers to the New Zealanders who fought and lost their lives in the most significant air battle in history.
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed, by so many, to so few," Royal New Zealand Air Force wing commander Darryl Cockroft said, quoting the late Sir Winston Churchill.
"Fought between July and October 1940, the Battle of Britain was one of the key turning points of the Second World War.
"New Zealand's most visible contribution was the 135 men who served in Fighter Command, the third largest national contingent after the Brits and the Poles. Many Kiwis also served in Bomber Command, including 75 New Zealand Squadron, which repeatedly attacked the German invasion barges and craft being gathered in French ports. Other New Zealanders flew supporting missions as part of the RAF Coastal Command or served in the ships and squadrons of the Royal Navy."
Much of the ceremony focused on the exceptional contribution of one particular Kiwi - the late Sir Keith Park.
"If any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did," Lord Tedder once noted of Sir Keith.
"I do not believe it is realised what one man, with his leadership, his calm judgment and his skill, did to save not only this country but the world."
Sir Keith's grandniece Lesley Park and her granddaughter Helena Mossman both attended the Tauranga service. "Someone said to me a few years ago, he was the most famous New Zealander but the least well-known," Ms Park said.
Classic Flyers chairman David Love paid tribute to his friend Les Munro, the last Dambusters pilot, who was living in Tauranga until he passed away last month.
Mr Munro had left a significant sum of money to Classic Flyers that would help to continue to preserve aviation history, Mr Love said.
"I just wish to honour his memory here today."
Battle of Britain
* The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940.
* The battle was the first major campaign fought entirely by the air forces and was the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date.
* By preventing Germany from gaining air superiority, the British forced Adolf Hitler to eventually cancel Operation Sea Lion, a planned amphibious and airborne invasion of Britain.
* Nazi Germany's failure to achieve its objective of destroying Britain's air defences is considered by historians to be the first major defeat in World War II and the crucial turning point in the war.