Images: NZ Army Handover Ceremony held in Suai
Media Support Unit
21 November 2001
For Immediate Release
OH 01-0715-68 – Outgoing Senior National Officer, Colonel Tom O’Reilly (Left) hands over the ‘Whakamauri’ to the Commanding Officer Fifth New Zealand Battalion Group (NZBatt 5) Lieutenant Colonel ‘Lofty’ Hayward, while the Regimental Sergeant Major NZBatt 5 looks on, during the handover of command ceremony from NZBatt 4 to NZBatt 5. - photo LAC Tim Jordan, NZDF
On a beautifully clear Sunday morning at the New Zealand Battalion Forward Operating Base on the outskirts of Suai township, East Timor, a sense of anticipation and excitement filled the air as the remaining members of the Fourth New Zealand Battalion Group (NZBatt 4) prepared to formally handover the responsibility for New Zealand’s Peace-keeping efforts in the Cova Lima District, to the Fifth New Zealand Battalion Group (NZBatt 5).
In a moving ceremony, the Whakamauri was passed among the ranks of the departing NZBatt 4 personnel before Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Peter Wood, Commanding Officer (CO) NZBatt 4 handed the Whakamauri to the outgoing Senior National Officer, Colonel Tom O’Reilly, who in turn gave it to the CO NZBatt 5, Lt Col ‘Lofty’ Hayward. Members of the Fijian contingent sang a melodious and energetic rendition of ‘How great thou art’ in Maori, English and Fijian, during this part of the handover ceremony.
The Whakamauri is a carving, which is symbolic of ‘The Essence of Life’ and is held as a spiritual guardian to whom it is bestowed. The New Zealand Army Marae first presented it to 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, Operation Radian 3 (the third NZ Contingent to Bosnia in July to December 1995 . Since then it has been presented to all New Zealand Battalions operating in East Timor, and on the 18th November was presented to NZBatt 5.
OH 01-0715-77 – NZBatt 4 Sergeant James Keepa (QAMR) lowers the 1 RNZIR Flag during the handover of command ceremony from NZBatt 4 to NZBatt 5. - photo LAC Tim Jordan, NZDF
Members of NZBatt 4 then performed the Battalion Haka while their flag was lowered, folded and handed to Lt Col Wood. At the same time the NZBatt 5 flag was raised, and will remain flying until they handover to their replacements in May 2002.
Brigadier Richard Wilson, Peace Keeping Force Commander, Sector West, said congratulations to NZBatt 4 for a job well done. “You can return to New Zealand knowing you have made a significant positive difference in the lives of the East Timorese people during your time here. Thankyou also for the significant contribution you made to the very successful constituent assembly election.”
“To Lt Col Hayward and NZBatt 5, I look forward to working with you as we face new and different challenges that will occur as we move into the next phase of peace-keeping operations, independence for East Timor.”