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Vets Touch Down In Blighty For NZ Memorial

Vets Touch Down In Blighty For NZ Memorial

The Kiwi veterans are led off the RNZAF 757 by 'Thorpy'

Yesterday in the wee small hours of the New Zealand morning a contingent of Kiwi war veterans and their defence minders touched down in England at the RAF's Brize Norton air base. The veterans have been chosen by ballot to attend the unveiling of the New Zealand memorial - which will be dedicated this weekend by the NZ Prime Minister, Helen Clark.

Scoop Media had the pleasure of tagging along with the veterans, their minders, NZ's national rock and roll treasure Dave Dobbyn and of course that most noble group of people - the NZ media. Due to the fact that just over 300 people are being transported to London the trip has been carried out with military precision. The tour party have been transported to the other side of the world by two RNZAF 757s

Tropical Cairns – It ain't half hot here mum!

Penang – a place where lifts breaking down in apartment blocks is a scandal – and rightly so if your apartment block is 50 stories high

Leaving Ohakea early Sunday morning the tour party have touched down in tropical Cairns for refueling then stayed a night on the Malaysian Island of Penang.

From Penang the tour party flew to the Kingdom of Bahrain where a beer costs nine US Dollars, oil is plentiful but water is in short supply. After Bahrain the magical mystery trip continued on to Crete for another refueling stop before finally touching down in Brize Norton, Surrey.

Generally the trip has been full of hearty kiwi good humour however Scoop understands there have been some creative differences between certain documentary makers and the Defence Force as to access to the war veterans. Amazingly in this day of Paris Hilton there are still people around who would rather not have a camera shoved up their snouzer.

Luckily for the good folk reading Scoop this is not often a problem with MPs so access to the PM and her press conferences looks pretty much sorted. Bridging the occasional divide between the media and the military (vets included) has been Kiwi treasure Dave Dobbyn who upon the descent into the UK gave a moving though slightly muffled and certainly not bootleggable rendition of 'Loyal' over the 757's telephone speaker system.

It was also heartening to see that despite the hint of misty rain New Zealand's High Commissioner to London Jonathan Hunt was able to wander out to the runway and greet the arriving veterans. After a certain much publicised incident involving Mr Hunt staying in his limo due to inclement weather it looks like he has taken the PM's advice and bought some warmer clothes.


Click for big version

A special escort was provided for 'the general' – New Zealand's Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae seemed to be held in high regard by these 'flash as' Bahraini military policemen

Keeping the plants watered in Bahrain is probably no easy task – a hard working NZ media representative in front of a very pretty hotel garden.

Brize Norton

NZ High Commissioner Jonathan Hunt in a very nice and snug looking jacket – ready to welcome the vets.

If it moves I'll shoot it – well respected NZ doco and film maker Gaylene Preston turned into a cyborg for the trip -part person - part DVcam.

TV3 Camaeraman Richard Cooper smiling happily in the UK with his best pal – a Sony Digi Betacam – Mr Cooper's best friend was briefly impounded by the Bahraini authorities till the NZ Ambassador's intervention.

Defence and media bods

What the trip is all about – those that have served NZ in times of trouble – the vets


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