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Anzac Day Commemorated In Bougainville

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release

Friday April 25, 2003

Anzac Day Commemorated In Bougainville

Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

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New Zealand and Australian Defence Force personnel serving as part of the Peace Monitoring Group, called Operation BEL ISI, on the island of Bougainville marked ANZAC Day 2003 with a morning commemorative service at their Loloho base camp. Shortly after the service soldiers from both countries were joined by their Fijian and Vanuatuan counterparts to commence an important operation designed to bring guns used in the Bougainville conflict under the control of the United Nations Peace Process.

In a very moving service young soldiers from New Zealand and Australia recounted the exploits of their forebears and confirmed that the ANZAC spirit was as strong as ever on the crisis-torn island.

New Zealand’s Senior National Officer in Bougainville, Lieutenant Colonel Josh Wineera said, “Operation BEL ISI is a unique mission in that the force is unarmed – peace without a gun”.

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“In contrast to the 1915 British-led operation at Gallipoli, Operation BEL ISI was jointly planned in 1997 by New Zealand and Australia with the aim of helping to bring peace to the troubled island.

“The New Zealand Defence Force initially led the mission and the Army’s top officer, Major General Jerry Mateparae, was one of its first commanders,” said Lieutenant Colonel Wineera.

The Peace Monitoring Group is expected cease its operations in Bougainville on 30 June, nearly five and a half years after it began. The task of containing the weapons that were used in the conflict is almost complete and this will bring to an end a New Zealand military undertaking that has lasted longer than the entire duration of World War One.


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