NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand --
The U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band arrived here Sept. 10 during the Rugby World Cup 2011 to kick off a yearlong celebration.
New Zealand has a long history with the Marines. Almost 70 years ago, on June 14, 1942, the USS Wakefield arrived in Wellington with the first Marine units to strengthen New Zealand’s defenses during World War II.
“We view the Marines being here as the start of our 70th anniversary, so we are starting the yearlong celebration now with (the Marines).” said David Huebner, the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand.
The celebration is New Zealand’s thank you to the U.S. for what they did for the Kiwis 70 years ago and is intended to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
The MARFORPAC Band’s brass quartet performed on Breakfast TVNZ, a national news and talk show in New Zealand.
Later on, the rugby fans enjoyed MARFORPAC’s ceremonial band as they paraded through the streets of New Plymouth. A crowd of New Zealanders and RWC 2011 visitors formed at the parade’s starting point and followed the band to the fan tent, where official game celebrations are hosted.
The show band, which played primarily funk music, opened the Taranaki International Village celebrations inside the fan tent. Huebner, who also led the parade, made the introductory comments for the show band’s performance. Huebner reminded the crowd that it wasn’t the first time Marines were in New Zealand.
He said at any moment during the American presence between June 1942 and mid 1944, there were between 15,000 and 45,000 American service members in New Zealand.
The show band’s performance attracted enough of a crowd that there were fans watching the show from outside the tent. MARFORPAC band members also had the opportunity to meet some of the U.S. rugby team, the USA Eagles, during the events celebrating RWC 2011.
“It’s also wonderful to have the band here to help celebrate the Rugby World Cup, where our national team is in the competition,” Huebner said.
The MARFORPAC band will be performing through Sept. 16 at different events throughout New Zealand, including opening two of the USA Eagles’ games.