A Garden Party Celebration
Yesterday, in my capacity as the National President of the Royal NZ Navy Women’s Association, I was privileged to attend a garden party hosted by the Governor General of New Zealand, Lt General The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae. One of the many functions to be held this year under the banner of “Operation Neptune” in celebration of 75 years of the Royal NZ Navy, the garden party was held at Government House in Auckland.
Along with dignitaries, members of parliament and high ranking military personnel from both NZ and overseas there were many currently serving NZ sailors attending. In his welcome Sir Jerry might have verbally stumbled and found it difficult telling those assembled that we had gathered to celebrate “the senior service” but he graciously acknowledged the Navy anyway.
Mingled among the guests were veteran personnel, including a small group of those who served as part of the Women’s Royal NZ Naval Service (commonly referred to as Ex-Wrens). Six RNZNWA members, all who served in the Navy during World War II, enjoyed a delightful afternoon mixing and mingling with other guests. I felt very privileged to introduce each of these ladies to the Governor General.
The gathering gave some of the current serving female sailors the opportunity to meet and chat with the ladies who had helped pave the way of women serving in our Navy through the decades, both ashore and afloat. Both the young sailors and the veterans were surprised and intrigued by some of the details shared during the afternoon. Not only did our younger people hear tales of hardship, discomfort, fun and excitement the veterans had experience, our veterans learned of the amazing choices females in today’s navy have available to them.
For just a few moments I’m grateful these sailors allowed me to remember what it felt like to experience again the comradeship belonging in this environment. Times like yesterday’s garden party, I remember how much I enjoyed serving in the RNZN, and how much there has been to miss since I retired.