Ex-Pats Soak Up Patriotic Glow Of NZ
The unveiling of the New Zealand Memorial in London's Hyde Park provided the chance for Kiwi ex-pats to wander along and show their respects to the veterans that had made the trip over and, also to pay their respects to those that have fallen in battle. Scoop decided to forgo the comfort of a plastic chair in the media enclosure and soaked up the atmosphere with the ex-pat community. Considering the weather was potentially worse than Wellington on a really rubbish day the turnout for the NZ Memorial was excellent with about 1500 hardy patriotic Kiwi's on hand to gaze at the large screen tellys erected on Wellington's Arch.
Most ex-pats Scoop talked pointed out that their reason for coming was to share their pride in being a Kiwi and the opening of the NZ Memorial was certainly a five star affair - as well as The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair , The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Prince William, Princess Anne and the Duchess of Cornwall (AKA Camilla Parker Bowles) were in attendance to pay their respects.
Besides 95% of the Roal Family and Tony and Cherie Blair a number of the UK's top military brass were also in attendance including Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, the First Sea Lord, UK and General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of Staff British Army. Also in attendance was Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, Chief of Air Staff , RAF.
As one former Wellingtonian pointed out the above list of names did make the event an excellent target for as Tony Blair would say 'those who would seek to destroy our way of life'. Thankfully the only hitch in the entire event came about when the NZ Defence Force Chaplain's microphone cut out during a crucial point.
The event was soon back on track thanks to Dave Dobbyn belting out a song inspired partly by the case of Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui, Hayley Westenra's performance of God Defend NZ and a rousing Haka from the New Zealand Maori cultural group.
With dusk falling at around Four O'Clock the 1500 expats – some a tad tear streaked - departed in search of warm beer and pubs playing the All Black Vs France test in an effort to keep the patriotism flowing