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New Zealand’s Unknown Warrior is coming home

Friday 29 October 2004

New Zealand’s Unknown Warrior is coming home

On Monday 1 November a New Zealand delegation will depart for France to begin the process of repatriating the Unknown Warrior.

The Handover Ceremony will take place on Saturday 6 November at the New Zealand Memorial site near the village of Longueval, France. The ceremony will mark the official return of the Unknown Warrior from the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission into the care of New Zealand. The ceremony will be witnessed by representatives of the French and New Zealand governments, including the New Zealand Ambassador to France, His Excellency Adrian Macey, Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson, and President of the Royal New Zealand Returned & Services’ Association, Mr John Campbell. The Mayor and villagers of Longueval, who have come to regard the Unknown Warrior as one of their own, will also attend the ceremony.

Mr Richard Kellaway, Director-General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will make the formal handover on behalf of the Commission to His Excellency Adrian Macey, New Zealand Ambassador to France, on behalf of the people of New Zealand.

On the eve of the Handover Ceremony, the New Zealand Ambassador to Belgium, His Excellency Wade Armstrong, will lead the delegation at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, Belgium which is held every evening at 8.00pm.

The Warrior will be finally laid to rest in the newly created Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial in Wellington on Thursday 11 November, Armistice Day.

The Unknown Warrior is one of over 250,000 New Zealanders who served in overseas wars. He is one of 30,000 who died in service. He is one of over 9000 who have no known grave or whose remains could never be recovered. The remains will be chosen by the Commission from a First World War Cemetery in France, from an area where the greatest number of the various New Zealand regiments and battalions are known to have fought. As the soldier’s name, rank, regiment, race, religion and other details are unknown, he represents and honours all Zealanders who became lost to their families in war.

On return to New Zealand on Wednesday 10 November, the Unknown Warrior will lie in state at Parliament to enable New Zealanders to pay their respects. A Memorial Service will be held on 11 November at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, followed by a Military Funeral Procession through central Wellington to the National War Memorial where an Interment Ceremony with full Military Honours will take place. The Project is co-ordinated by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Other government departments involved are: New Zealand Defence Force, Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs (Visits and Ceremonial Office), Te Puni Kokiri/Ministry of Maori Development, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is supported by the National War Memorial Advisory Council, New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association, Te Ati Awa (represented by Wellington Tenths Trust), Wellington City Council and Transit New Zealand.

KEY DATES/TIMES Monday 1 November 2004 9.00am New Zealand delegation departs from RNZAF Air Movements Terminal, Rongotai, Wellington for Lille, France.

Friday 5 November 2004 8.00pm (local time) Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate, Belgium.

Saturday 6 November 2004 11.00am (local time) Handover Ceremony at Longueval, France to mark the Commonwealth War Graves Commission returning the Unknown Warrior into the care of the New Zealand delegation.

Wednesday 10 November 2004 10.00am Unknown Warrior arrives in New Zealand. Welcome Ceremony at RNZAF Air Movements Terminal, Rongotai. 12.00noon Arrival Ceremony at Parliament to mark the Unknown Warrior’s return. 2.00pm onwards Unknown Warrior lies in state in the Legislative Council Chamber, Parliament to enable New Zealanders to pay their respects.

Thursday 11 November 2004 10.30am Unknown Warrior leaves Parliament for Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. 11.00am Memorial Service at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. 12.15pm Military Funeral Procession through central Wellington from the Cathedral to the National War Memorial. 1.30pm Interment Ceremony with full Military Honours at the National War Memorial.

A detailed timeline for the Handover Ceremony is online at www.unknownwarrior.govt.nz Photographs from the Handover Ceremony will be available from the website on Monday 8 November.

ENDS

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