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Governor-General to visit United States, Italy and Ethiopia

8 May 2014

Governor-General to visit the United States, Italy and Ethiopia

The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, and Lady Janine Mateparae are about to embark on a significant overseas visit which will highlight the positive role New Zealand plays in world affairs.

The two-week visit takes in the United States, Italy and Ethiopia and the programme will include an address to a forum at the United Nations, an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis, attendance at Battle of Cassino commemorations and the official opening of New Zealand’s embassy in Addis Ababa.

In New York, the Governor-General will deliver a speech at the opening ceremony of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the United Nations, where he will also meet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and attend a lunch with permanent representatives of 25 countries contributing to United Nations Peacekeeping Missions.

“These are valuable opportunities to underline New Zealand’s credentials as a multicultural nation and committed international citizen at a time when we are seeking a place on the United Nations Security Council”, the Governor-General said.

The Governor-General and Lady Janine will have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican and will also meet HE Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic, in Rome.

The Governor-General will visit Second World War battle sites and attend memorial services for New Zealand, Polish, British and Commonwealth troops at Cassino. A New Zealand Service of Remembrance at the Cassino Railway Station will honour the members of the Maori Battalion who lost their lives in the assault on the station. The Service will also be attended by members of the 28th Maori Battalion and a New Zealand veterans’ delegation. The Governor-General will then speak at the New Zealand National Commemorative Service at Cassino Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, where 464 New Zealanders have marked graves.

“It will be an honour to share this significant commemoration with veterans of the Italian campaign and to acknowledge their service to the war effort. We will also pay homage to the 2176 New Zealanders who did not return from the battlefields of Italy”, the Governor-General said.

The Governor-General will have an informal meeting with HRH Prince Harry at a reception following the British Commonwealth Service of Remembrance.

The Governor-General said he hopes to see more young New Zealanders visiting Italy to retrace the footsteps of their forefathers who fought in the War.

The Governor-General and Lady Janine will also visit the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino which was destroyed by Allied bombers during the Second World War and has since been rebuilt.

In Ethiopia, the Governor-General will officially open New Zealand’s embassy in Addis Ababa. New Zealand established diplomatic relations with Ethiopia in 2011, in recognition of its status as a regional leader in Africa and host of the African Union. The Governor-General will make calls on the President and Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the African Union Peace and Security Commissioner.

The Governor-General and Lady Janine depart on 10 May and will return to New Zealand on 23 May.

ENDS

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