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Clark: Unveiling of Lt-Col William Malone Plaque

Unveiling of the Plaque Commemorating Lt-Col William Malone, Grand Hall, Parliament

I thank all present for gathering here today for the unveiling of the plaque commemorating the life of an outstanding New Zealander, William George Malone.


I thank all present for gathering here today for the unveiling of the plaque commemorating the life of an outstanding New Zealander, William George Malone. I particularly welcome the many members of the Malone family, who have come from throughout New Zealand and overseas to attend both this event and the launch this evening of an edition of William Malone's Great War diaries and letters.

Shortly before he sailed from Wellington in 1914, William Malone stressed to his much-loved wife, Ida, that she must teach their children "the doctrine of work and duty - duty to themselves - their fellows and above all to their country !" There can be no doubt that William Malone lived and died by this creed, from the time he first arrived in New Zealand as a young man of twenty one in 1880, until his heroic death on Chunuk Bair, at Gallipoli 90 years ago today.

William Malone is best known as the distinguished Commanding Officer of the Wellington Infantry Battalion at Gallipoli. He led the battalion when it seized Chunuk Bair, and he and his men held it all day against ferocious attacks from Turkish troops. They were exposed to fire and attack on three sides. When they were relieved by other New Zealand units at the end of that day, some seventy of his battalion's 760 men remained. William Malone lay among the dead.

I have myself visited Chunuk Bair on three occasions, and only in April walked down the hill which Malone and his men had struggled up. I have the greatest admiration and respect for what Malone and his men achieved, against overwhelming odds. Their courage and determination marks them out as exceptionally brave New Zealanders.

What is less well known about William Malone is that he played a significant part in the development of Taranaki. He held various leadership positions in Taranaki, on a Road Board, as a member of the Hawera County Council, the Taranaki Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, as clerk and treasurer for the Stratford County Council, and as a Justice of the Peace.

After a short period of service in the Armed Constabulary, Malone became a pioneer farmer, and later a successful lawyer in the Stratford district. Throughout his life he demonstrated a tremendous capacity for hard work, a commitment to education - he was fluent in French and a competent pianist, with a high degree of enterprise, and a great willingness to serve his fellow citizens.

Malone was also a formidable character. One acquaintance described him as a "rugged figure, a typical old New Zealand pioneer with a powerful jaw and an appearance of great strength and determination".

William Malone's many achievements, culminating in his tragic death at Chunuk Bair, warrant this plaque in his honour here in Parliament, but it is also interesting to note that he himself ran twice as a candidate for election to Parliament. He stood as an independent liberal in the Taranaki electorate in a by-election in 1907 and in the general election of the following year.

Malone described himself as a "liberal of longstanding, of democratic tendencies who does most of his own thinking". He was an attractive and effective candidate, and we are told was especially popular with women voters.

Malone attracted considerable support as an independent. The result was that he split the Liberal vote, allowing the conservative opposition candidate to come through the middle. In 1908 Malone declined the invitation to become the official Liberal candidate, because that would have required him to compromise his strong support for the freehold land tenure system. Malone's commitment to the democratic process and the rule of law make it particularly appropriate that he should be commemorated here in Parliament.

Many people for many years have believed that William Malone's many achievements had not received the public acknowledgement they warranted. The mounting of this plaque in Parliament gives recognition to his extraordinary deeds. I would like to acknowledge the advocacy of my colleague, the Honourable Jim Anderton, whose long-standing efforts to secure proper public recognition for William Malone have led to the placement of this plaque.

It is with much pleasure that I now unveil this plaque, which commemorates the life of William George Malone, a truly exceptional New Zealander.


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