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Viceregal visiting

Page 3 – Organising a small-town do

Empire may have shrunk in the 1950s, but no one wanted to be bypassed. In that decade rural New Zealanders achieved equality; now counties as well as boroughs and cities could host the governor-general. County clerks received circulars on procedures for official visits.

Receptions could take place either indoors or outside. If outside, a small dais could be used. 'School children and old identities should be in a prominent position', Government House told the Inangahua county clerk in 1958. Public buildings should fly flags on the day of the visit.

The mayor or county chairman kicked things off by greeting the governor-general and escorting him to the dais. After he finished his welcoming speech, His Excellency would reply. If there were no other speakers (there usually were), each made a short supplementary speech.

County clerks were urged to restrict seating on the dais to prominent people and – in the language of the times – their wives because they would be introduced to Their Excellencies once the speeches ended. Then it was the turn of the children, returned servicemen and the old identities in the front rows.

Honour guards

Often the community put on an honour guard. These varied according to the nature of the event and the resources of the host community or institution.

Honour guards In heartland New Zealand were usually less imposing than those at a state opening of Parliament. After the war they typically comprised returned servicemen, school cadets, Scouts, Cubs, Guides and Brownies, and even uniformed nurses.

Massey College students traditionally provided a slightly irreverent welcome, towing an old jalopy behind a tractor and putting on an honour guard.

These days honour guards are usually confined to major constitutional or diplomatic ceremonies and visits to defence facilities.

How to cite this page

Organising a small-town do, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated