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Welcome home to the 2nd 1st Battalion Group

Hon Jim Anderton
Deputy Prime Minister

Speech Notes
Welcome home to the 2nd 1st Battalion Group

Embargoed till 11.30 Thursday, 23 November 2000
Cathedral Square, Christchurch

Tena koutou, Tena koutou, Tena Koutou Katoa

I am honoured to be here.

I want to acknowledge the courage and commitment of the Second First Battalion Group and welcome you all home.

As I stand here in Cathedral Square, built by the early settlers who came and made this city I am reminded of our history.

Our history is crowded with heroes and moments of true drama that linger in our memory as events that forged our nationhood.

For me, the precise moment of truth when our unique character as a nation was formed was the bloody battle at Gallipoli. Many fine New Zealanders fought there and died in valiant combat. But the man who was perhaps the most remarkable of them all was never honoured.

He was 56-year old Stratford farmer, Colonel William Malone, Commander of the Wellington Regiment.

Malone and most of the troops he commanded were killed holding a vital piece of strategic ground at Gallipoli: Chunuk Bair.

He was never honoured for his gallantry and in fact was blamed for the failings of others.

Unfortunately, military convention and precedent regarding posthumous honours means we need to find a creative new way for heroes like Malone to be honoured. Crown honours are not awarded posthumously, so some time in this term of office I intend to achieve long overdue recognition for Colonel Malone.

Honouring citizens of this country is part of the way we create and continue tradition. It establishes role models, and heroes.

As we look back as a nation with the wisdom of history we should be able to say to our young nation that here was a person who gave to his or her people and country. The politics of the day might not have valued that service then, but we recognise it today.

Whether they are soldiers who put their lives at risk for their comrades or country and citizens whose life's work gives exceptional value to our society in general, we honour those who care for others.

I know the army is a bit like an iceberg – a bit that's visible at the top but underneath that, and out of site, there is a large bit; those who stay behind to plan and make things happen properly and competently.

This group of soldiers here today from the Second First Battalion Group along with other New Zealanders have stamped the greeting 'Kia Ora Kiwis' into the vocabulary of the East Timorese people.

In 500 years, historians will believe that the East Timorese must be related to New Zealand Maori because of that fact.

The soldiers here today have had to deal with some traumatic events:
 The death of a Nepalese comrade;
 The massacre of UN personnel in West Timor;
 The evacuation of UN personnel from West Timor under extraordinarily dangerous circumstances with no guarantee of security from attack, an operation carried out in the highest traditions of courage and service of our nation's military forces;
 And finally the tragic death of Private Leonard Manning.

I think here of the three New Zealanders who have died serving their country and the people of East Timor - Warrant Officer Tony Walser and Staff Sergeant Billy White from the First Battalion Group, and Private Leonard Manning of the 2nd/1st Battalion Group.

Public service, or community service, have not been popular or fashionable terms in recent years.

This Government is on a crusade to restore people who make sacrifices to the place of honour they deserve.

Our commitment to mutual trust, service and respect is reflected in the Coalition agreement. Basic values like integrity, honesty and acting in good faith stand at the heart of the Coalition Government and the processes we use in government.

We have committed to acting in good faith to restore public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system and of Parliament.

This Labour Alliance Coalition Government is clear that the future of New Zealand lies in the hands of New Zealanders. At the end of the day it is who we are that makes us strong and realises our destiny.

The soldiers we welcome home today have shown on an international stage who we are and what we stand for. For that, for your commitment and your honourable conduct, we are proud of you.

Welcome home. Welcome Home, Thrice welcome home.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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