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Anderton address at Malone plaque unveiling

Anderton address at Malone plaque unveiling

Hon Jim Anderton speaks prior to the Malone plaque unveiling

08 August 2005
2.00PM Grand Hall, Parliament

Prime Minister. Members of Colonel Malone’s family. Representatives of the Wellington regiment. Parliamentary colleagues

In 1989, sixteen years ago, I first began lobbying for recognition for Colonel William Malone.

It struck me as a deep injustice that his heroism had gone unrecognized. Worse, he was even blamed for the failure of his mission to take and hold Chunuk Bair.

It was all the more an injustice because the campaign he fought in was part of the newly forged steel which gave strength to New Zealand's new identity as an independent nation-state.

It was the first time our young men fought and died as New Zealanders, rather than as members of one of Great Britain's colonies.

Gallipoli’s profound place in the centre of our national identity is understood by the young and not so young New Zealanders who travel there.

They stand on that hill and look down to the sparkling Dardenelles, as William Malone did ninety years ago today.

They think of the young lives lost so far from home.

They think of the men that died there as sons and brothers.

So many families, when we talk about Gallipoli, talk about the uncles lost there.

They were men whose blood was spilt before they ever had a chance to begin a family.

17-year old Martin Pearsson, who lies in one of only ten marked graves on Chunuk Bair, is perhaps the most famous.

I have my own family connection to the Gallipoli campaign.

Colonel Malone went there as a much older man than most – 56 years of age.

He went as a leader.

It’s always occurred to me that is something uniquely New Zealand about the way he blended toughness and deep concern for his men.

He declined the order to lead his men up Chunuk Bair in broad daylight and said,

“So far as I am concerned the men, my brave gallant men, shall have the best fighting chance I can give them or that can be got.”

So he led them up in darkness, instead, and took the hill without a single casualty.

He lost his life up there, like all but seventy of the 760 who desperately defended the peak for a day or so.

He should have been honoured for his role after his death.

Today we’re putting right that omission.

I’ve written about Colonel Malone in my book of New Zealand’s Unsung Heroes.

From today we can no longer say he is ‘unsung’; of that progress we can be proud.

The campaign to achieve recognition has been a long one.

In 1998 there was a hard fought by-election in Taranaki-King Country, and the campaign period included ANZAC Day.

It centred in part on William Malone’s home town of Stratford.

So on ANZAC Day our entire campaign team left their beds before dawn to pay tribute to Colonel Malone.

They went to the gardens where his admirers had got together after the war and erected a memorial gate in his honour.

We still hadn't, at that time, achieved formal recognition, but in some ways that campaign brought us to today.

It was after that by-election that Helen Clark’s party and mine recognised the need to work together.

From that moment, forged in William Malone’s territory, the government of 1999 was formed which has brought us here today.

I’m delighted that after all this time, with the full support of the Prime Minister, my own staff and many of the Malone family itself, Malone’s heroism and that of his men is to be commemorated here in Parliament.

Fifteen years is a long time.

But if there is a lesson to be drawn from Colonel Malone, perhaps it is that determination is the central ingredient of success.

Ninety years has been too long.

But we can be proud today to have finally taken this hill, Parliament Hill, for the good name of Colonel William Malone and the gallant men of the Wellington regiment.

The Plaque honouring Colonel Malone


ENDS


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