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Former Defence Chief One Of NZ's Finest Officers

Former Defence Minister Max Bradford said today he was sad to hear of the death of Lieutenant General Tony Birks, former Chief of the Defence Force, who died yesterday.

"Lieutenant General Birks was one of our finest officers and I was privileged to work with him as CDF while I was Minister. We worked together during the period that plans were developed for the $2 billion upgrade to the defence force announced by the National Government in the 1997 White Paper.

"I and the National Party would like to offer his wife Gina and children our sincere sympathy.

"Tony was an officer with considerable integrity. He was particularly concerned about his men and women in the field and their welfare. In his retirement he has worked closely with organisations dealing with youth problems.

"He was responsible for establishing the defence forces' first pan-Maori Marae. He worked closely with Sir Hepi te Heuheu to bring that about.

"Lieutenant General Birks will be sorely missed," Mr Bradford said.

Ends

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