Retired captain Tom Rowling looks at a “Red Duster”, a Merchant Navy flag, during the Merchant Navy Parade at Anzac Park on Saturday morning. Photo: Andrew Board.

Merchant Navy men remembered

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More than 100 people paid their respects to those who toiled away in Nelson’s once-large Merchant Navy.

Nelson once boasted more than 70 shipping companies, making its Merchant Navy one of the biggest in the country. So when in 2010 the government acknowledged the efforts of the Merchant Navy in wartime and created Merchant Navy Day, it was no surprise that Nelson’s annual parade would become so popular. Dave Laws, who helps organise the day, says he’s thrilled with how it’s grown over the four years. “We had a great turn out, really great. I thought the guest speaker was really interesting and it was nice to have the mayor there as well.”

Nelson City Council is supporting the day — which is officially on Wednesday — by flying the “Red Duster” on top of the council building this week.

Dave says the reason the parade and ceremony is so popular in Nelson is because of our history with the sea. “When I first went to sea there were 70 companies here in Nelson. Now it’s just fishing boats, but there’s still a lot of us who worked in the Merchant Navy.”