At HMNZS Tamaki (Fort Cautley) we had the Officers, Senior and Junior Rates Bars where our ships companies gathered to relax, drink, enjoy each other’s company and invited guests.
However, there were also other places within the establishment where at certain times matelots would gather to celebrate, party and socialize.
One of the most insignificant places was the old white house at the southern end of the rugby field which at one time was known as the Friday afternoon party house where senior rates would return too after the ‘make & mend’ session at the Masonic had ended. It was ideal as no one could hear the noise level or see what was going on. Guitars would play, singing and laughter as matelots enjoyed the party atmosphere through the afternoon and evening.
On completion of the end of term/year parades the drill shed put on the ‘best show in town’ It would be set up prior to the parade by the gunners with comfortable chairs, seats, trestles, a couple of bars and decorated appropriately for the celebration. Guests that we invited in were the parade Reviewing Officers such as Admirals, Governor Generals, Commodores right down to the junior gunners who would be detailed off as stewards for the occasion. Light finger-food snacks were also provided courtesy of the CPOCK. The only thing that the shed didn’t have were “Heads”
Christmas time it was the Buffer who would throw a huge party down in his compound. What a ‘piss up’ this was. This party was for the whole ships company to attend and they did in numbers. The Buffers party spent days in preparing for this annual event. The compound was decorated, drums full of ice and bottles of beer full to the top, a BBQ, a spit, fresh sea food (donated by the divers) salads and finger food were all on offer. They even had ‘Father Christmas’ make an appearance.
One of the years I attended John Peddie was the CO who just enjoyed himself and the entire occasion. I am not sure who the Buffer was that year, could have been Dave Miles or Dave Tatana, I’m sure someone out there will be able to add the names of Buffers who did a great job in organising these wonderful times. The guitars and songs went on well into the night with haka and waiata being performed. These are just three places that I remember, I’m sure there were other places that matelots will identify once they read this ‘dit’ They were occasions never to be forgotten.
Throughout our naval history matelots have always found ways to gather in places that were forbidden, off limits or were different from the permitted areas for a few “quiet ones” I wonder if the sailors of today do the same?
On the outside the Drill Shed …On the inside the ‘Party’ Shed.