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Big birthday bash for Boys’ Brigade

Boys’ Brigage provided a small but talented band to perform the Last Post and Reveille at Armistice Day last year. The setting is the Spragg War Memorial near Huia, Manukau Harbour.

Boys' Brigade is the world's first uniformed youth organisation, and this month it is celebrating its 125th birthday.

The origins of Boys Brigade were in Glasgow, Scotland. On October 4th 1883 William Alexander Smith gathered his unruly Bible Class together, for a session of drill in the hope that their behaviour would improve.

His scheme worked, and so was born the Boys’ Brigade. Smith went on to develop a programme consisting of games, gymnastics and other activities together with hymns and prayers. The motto was to be ‘sure and steadfast’ and the objective was to advance Christ’s Kingdom among Boys and promote habits of reverence, discipline, self-respect, obedience and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness.

It wasn’t long before a girls’ movement began (the Girls’ Brigade) and some 24 years’ later, an off-shoot of Boys’ Brigade was established – the Boy Scouts and, in due course, the Girl Guides.

Boys’ Brigade is an interdenominational movement. The first known Boys Brigade Company in New Zealand started on October 29th, 1886 in Christchurch. The heyday of the Brigades in this country was the period from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

The Boys’ Brigade in New Zealand has also fostered and been actively involved in the work of the Boys’ Brigade in the South Pacific, including Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Niue and Tonga.

Like all youth organizations, Boys Brigade now struggles to attract suitable leadership and compete with all the other activities that put demands on boys’ time.

Attempts have been made to tweak the programme to make it more relevant and to modernize the uniform.

ICONZ is a new organization that has been set up under the Boys’ Brigade umbrella in New Zealand. Through ICONZ the movement is expanding again. There are currently 27 ICONZ units with about 700 boys attending their weekly programmes.

ICONZ is not a replacement for the Boys Brigade in NZ. The two groups work side by side toward the same objective.

Traditional Boys’ Brigade Companies still exist in many, mainly Commonwealth, countries throughout the world. The Boys’ Brigade Queen’s Badge is still very highly regarded.

Among the events held to celebrate the anniversary, is a service at Glen Eden Methodist Church, the home of 1st Waitakere Boys’ Brigade on Saturday October 4th at 2pm Anyone who has ever been involved in Boys’ Brigade, whether as a boy or as a leader, and any other interested parties are invited to attend. Of course, there will be a birthday cake

For more information contact Doreen Sunman, captain of the 1st Waitakere Boys’ Brigade Company at 09 817 6486 or