Gun Salutes

History of gun salutes

The tradition of firing salutes grew from naval tradition. A warship would fire its cannons until all ammunition aboard was spent, demonstrating it was disarmed and it had no hostile intent. Today all salutes are fired with blank cartridges be it artillery, ship’s guns or small arms.

The 21 gun salute

The 21 gun salute, or royal salute, is the highest honour and is reserved for members of royalty and the Presidents of Republican States. The Governor-General, as the Queen’s official representative, is also entitled to a 21 gun salute. Foreign warships can also receive the royal salute which they return gun for gun.

New Zealand’s only permanent saluting battery

The only permanent saluting battery is at Point Jerningham in Wellington. The battery is made up of four modified 25 pounder guns and is manned by soldiers of the 16 Field Regiment Royal New Zealand Artillery.

Currently, the battery is used for five pre-planned salutes each year, marking occasions related to the Royal Family. In addition, the battery has fired salutes in support of state welcomes (usually conducted at Government House), official welcomes and ceremonies conducted at Parliament Buildings and salutes to visiting warships.

The battery is situated in a natural amphitheatre and members of the public are welcome to witness the salutes.


In 2013, the Point Jerningham battery was the first in the world to salute the birth of Prince George of Cambridge.

Planned salutes at the Point Jerningham battery in Wellington

6 February  - The accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
21 April  - The birthday (actual) of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
1st Monday of June  - The birthday (official as observed in New Zealand) of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
2 June  - The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
10 June  - The birthday of His Royal Highness The Prince, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

This page was last reviewed on 21 March 2018 and is current.