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Military Issue Stamp Launch

Military Issue Stamp Launch

Tonight I am wearing two hats-one as the Minister of Defence and the other as Minister for SOEs. With both, I am pleased to have the opportunity to officially launch this stamp issue-a very special one indeed.

I am delighted that NZ Post has chosen to honour New Zealand's service men and women in this way. Co-designed by the team at Post and the New Zealand Defence Force, these twenty stamps commemorate the significant role New Zealand's Armed Forces have played in the history and development of our country.

In a time when our world is in a state of some uncertainty and instability, it is timely to remember the tradition of service and excellence our Armed Forces have shown in the past-a tradition that continues today.

New Zealand has a long and exceptionally proud military history. Both at home and abroad, New Zealand's servicemen and women have contributed greatly to building New Zealand as a nation, as well as to a shared sense of what it means to be a New Zealander.

In every town and province of New Zealand, memorials remind us that New Zealanders have seen active service in every part of the globe. This stamp issue reinforces that remembrance.

Seeing the evolution of New Zealand's military uniform illustrates how the role of our Armed Forces has also evolved over time. Initially, New Zealand governments raised armed forces to fill the vacuum left by departing Imperial Forces in the 1800s. Their role was to meet the possibility of various internal conflicts, as well as any threat from overseas.

In the first half of the 20th century, New Zealand forces were used in combination with forces from Britain's other territories, to meet the wider needs of the British Empire.

Following the Second World War, our forces became valued as unique-a New Zealand contribution that could be deployed as part of a multinational response.

Today, New Zealand sees its forces as part of a wider set of security and diplomatic responses that can be employed in situations of both national and global interest.

The New Zealand Defence Force of the 21st century continues to evolve to meet the needs of an ever changing world. This evolution can be seen in the policies that have been established over the last three years, in the extensive re-equipment decisions that we are now making, and in the range of tasks currently being undertaken by the NZDF.

Around the world, individuals and units of the NZDF are taking part in extensive peace keeping and peace enforcement operations.

Whether employed on extended peacekeeping in such countries as East Timor and Bougainville, or cutting off lines of supply and communication for terrorist groups associated with Al Qaeda in the Gulf of Oman, the NZDF continues to add to its operational record of excellence around the world.

NZDF officers on United Nations duty are engaged in a wide variety of tasks, with colleagues working alongside them from the defence forces of many other member countries of the United Nations.

The uniforms worn by the men and women of the NZDF are familiar to both friend and former adversary alike. They take New Zealand's name, and the image we wish to project, into every corner of the globe. The presence this gives us, as well as the positive image it conveys, should not be underestimated.

In the future, the men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force will continue to make a significant contribution, both to the security and well-being of our nation and the peace and security of our world.

They will train, equip and prepare for deployment as they always have, even while hoping that the need to engage in conflict will not arise.

We owe them a debt of gratitude for their history of service and the duties that lie in their future.

This stamp issue offers us an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of our service personnel, and to celebrate their proud heritage of outstanding service.

I thank New Zealand Post for commemorating New Zealand's Defence Forces in such a wonderful way.

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