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Mark Burton: Anzac day speech


Mark Burton: Anzac day speech

Anzac day speech

Today, as we remember those who served in our past, I want to pay respect to those men and women who right now continue that service to, and on behalf of, New Zealand.

Each year, on the 25th of April, increasing numbers of New Zealanders, young and old, are again gathering in remembrance of the enormous contribution New Zealand service personnel have made for peace and stability.

In the present world climate, we are all reminded that while the nature of conflict may have changed since our parents' and grandparents' time, the need for peace and stability remains the same. Kiwis-past and present-have shown outstanding dedication and personal sacrifice, serving their country to ensure that basic rights and freedoms are respected.

New Zealand has a long and proud military tradition. Our service men and women have always acquitted themselves with honour and distinction, both in the past and in our current operations around the world.

So today, as we remember those who served in our past, I want to pay respect to those men and women who right now continue that service to, and on behalf of, New Zealand.

From

• UN missions in Timor Leste (formally East Timor), Bougainville, Kosovo, the Middle East, and Sierra Leone • to vital reconstruction, security, and humanitarian work in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands, Bosnia, Sinai, and the Arabian Sea • to de-mining mission in Mozambique and Cambodia, • to helping combat the damage of the recent floods in New Zealand.

Sometimes in deployments of significant size, sometimes in small numbers of specialists-our personnel are making a real difference in people's lives.

For over three years in Timor Leste, Kiwi service personnel worked with and alongside the Timorese people, to build the possibility of an independent and secure future.

Although the casualty numbers were, thankfully, small compared to the many whose sacrifice in earlier conflicts we remember today, the personal grief and loss is just as great for those families from our own area whose loved ones paid the ultimate price, giving their lives in the service of their country.

In a couple of hours, the 94 personnel serving at Bamiyan will conduct their ANZAC Day commemoration.

There in Afghanistan, our Provincial Reconstruction Team has not only helped to create the beginnings of security for the local people and extend the authority of the government from Kabul-they have also led the reconstruction of Bamiyan University, the province's only tertiary institution, helping to restore some of the crucial parts of society to this region.

At around 2.00 pm our time, the ANZAC Day traditions will be observed in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, scene of the tragic attacks of senseless violence taking the lives of innocent children this week. Our Defence Force are there as part of a humanitarian and reconstruction effort, rebuilding schools and repairing crucial infrastructure.

200,000 people have clean drinking water for the first time in a generation because of the work of just 61 Kiwi engineers.

We should all be proud of the work that our Defence Forces are doing. Because of them, New Zealand can, while making strong contributions to humanitarian and reconstruction work, continue to stand alongside other nations in the global effort to counter those who would use cowardly acts of terror to further their own aims.

And these efforts are recognised internationally. Just recently, New Zealand was rated number one on a per capita basis for our contributions to United Nations and UN-recognised peacekeeping forces. I wish to congratulate them for this outstanding effort.

I also wish to extend this recognition to the personnel who remain behind to hold the fort, often picking up extra responsibilities and workload. The successful NZDF deployments simply wouldn't be possible without the hard work and support of colleagues, friends, and family back home.

All New Zealanders can be exceptionally proud of the past and present work of the New Zealand Defence Force. Much of their outstanding work, achievements, and sacrifices never get any media attention. So this ANZAC Day, I wish to highlight the contribution of our past and present soldiers, and their contribution to the safety and security of the world.

Today is certainly not about glorifying war, or creating romantic, rose-tinted notions of the devastating conflicts into which so many New Zealanders' lives have been drawn over the years. That we must never do. It is about honouring those who served-their determination, their courage, and their commitment. Today, it is proper that we remember their triumphs and their tragedies.

Lest we forget.

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