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New Commanding Officer Welcomed In True Tradition

16 November 2001

New Commanding Officer Welcomed In True New Zealand Tradition

By Captain Mark Richards, Suai, East Timor

Photos by LAC Eve Welch, NZDF

WO1 Hone Dalton challenges the Commanding Officer of NZBatt 5, Lt Col 'Lofty' Hayward with the traditional Maori Wero during the welcome ceremony held at the New Zealand Battalion Headquarters near Suai on Thursday.

Recent arrivals to East Timor line up behind their Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel 'Lofty' Hayward, to perform the NZBatt 5 Haka in response to the welcome and Haka presented by members of the outgoing Fourth New Zealand Battalion group.

Lt Col Hayward (Left) Commanding Officer (CO) of NZBatt 5, is welcomed to East Timor with a traditional Maori 'Hongi' by the CO NZBatt 4, Lt Col Peter Wood on the arrival of the new CO to East Timor at the start of NZBatt 5's six month tour with the United Nations.

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Antony 'Lofty' Hayward along with another one hundred and sixty members of the Fifth New Zealand Battalion Group (NZBatt 5) arrived in East Timor on Thursday to begin a six month tour of duty with the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET).

The Executive Officer (XO) Major Layne Sefton, and other members of NZBatt 5 who have been arriving in East Timor over the last couple of weeks welcomed the new arrivals at the Battalion Headquarters in Suai.

The Fourth New Zealand Battalion Group (NZBatt 4) under Lt Col Peter Wood have been in East Timor since May, and have already started departing the Suai area as part of the staggered handover process of New Zealand Defence Force personnel. Today's arrivals are the most significant to date in the rotation of New Zealand Battalion personnel, as the arrival of the new Commanding Officer signals the start of the 'official' handover of responsibility from NZBatt 4 to NZBatt 5.

A traditional Maori Powhiri was conducted as part of the official welcome including haka from both NZBatt 4 and 5 personnel.

In his welcome address Lt Col Wood said "The 4th New Zealand Battalion Group have been fortunate to be involved in some of the key events in the history of East Timor during our time here. Now, there are new challenges. Our mission here is changing, and it is appropriate that we hand over the responsibility for ensuring the local East Timorese have an environment in which they can continue to rebuild their country, to NZBatt 5."

Lt Col Hayward thanked Lt Col Wood for the welcome and said that NZBatt 4 can be proud of their achievements. He said, "I hope that we can be as professional in our role here as the previous four Battalions have been. We have big boots to fill along with the honour and traditions of those who have gone before us."

Approximately one third of the personnel in Batt 5 have come back to East Timor for a second operational tour, having previously served with NZ Batt 2 around 18 months ago. Lt Col Hayward says the battalion has been gathered from throughout the Army and all personnel have worked hard to build its unique identity.

Ends


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