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Busan Rock Unveiling - Parekura Horomia Speech

Hon Parekura Horomia
Friday 20 April 2001 SPEECH


Mayor Ahn , Administrator Kim of So-gu (sew-goo) District, Other Distinguished guests and veterans.

It is a great pleasure for me to take part in this ceremony in So-gu District in the City of Busan. In December last year on the waterfront in Wellington we unveiled a plaque commemorating NZ’s commitment to the United Nations Forces in Korea and a rock which was generously provided from the City of Busan. It was on 10 December 1950, of course, that the troopship the Ormonde left Wellington to bring the first contingent of NZ’s Kayforce to Korea.

After the ship arrived in Busan on 31 December the New Zealanders made their camp near here. We now have a rock from Busan to commemorate that event permanently mounted on Aotea Quay in Wellington. I’m delighted that today we shall unveil this rock from NZ in Busan.

Who amongst those NZers arriving in Busan 50 years ago would have thought that the modern city of Busan would look like this today? Its port, the third largest in the world, is vital to the trade between NZ and Korea. Busan and Auckland are sister cities and there is growing contact between our two peoples. Students and tourists from Busan are coming to NZ in increasing numbers and many young NZers are now teaching here. This rock will be a reminder that none of this would have happened if not for those volunteers who came to Busan in that cold December 50 years ago.

There is quite a long story behind this particular rock. It was obtained using the initiative for which Kiwi veterans have become renowned, by two Korean War veterans, Jim Newman and Rex Wakely. Unfortunately neither of them is here today. But the rock they chose when it arrived in Korea was seen as very symbolic because it is shaped like a turtle. I am told that a turtle in Korea is a symbol of longevity and good health. I can think of no more appropriate symbol for this monument. For it was the efforts of NZ veterans, along with their counterparts from Korea and other United Nations countries that ensured the freedom of the Republic of Korea and laid the foundations for peace. And we hope that the friendship between the peoples of NZ and Korea will indeed be long-lived.

We have honoured today in other ceremonies all those who served, those who suffered wounds and in particular those who paid the ultimate price. In this ceremony we recall where it all began for the Kiwis in the Korean War in 1950. I believe all veterans should take pride in the achievements of Korea today and the excellent relationship between NZ and Korea. Without you it would not have happened. We remember you and thank you.


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