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Government Vandals Destroying Our Heritage- Mark

Media Release

16 November 2006

Government Vandals Destroying Our Heritage- Mark

New Zealand First defence spokesperson Ron Mark has reacted angrily to reports that the Army’s tracked M113 armoured personnel carriers have been sold for scrap and will be destroyed by Christmas, describing this as an act of sheer vandalism.

“Genuine restorers and collectors who give up their time to preserve our heritage by displaying their restored vehicles at museums, A&P Shows, and world-famous events such as Warbirds over Wanaka, will be devastated,’ said Mr Mark.

“They see enormous heritage value in the M113s due to their having been used by New Zealanders in Vietnam, Bosnia, East Timor as well as here at home, and have been desperate in their attempts to purchase or lease them for historical purposes.

“We are renowned for running around the world digging up and restoring heritage military vehicles and aircraft so that New Zealanders young and old can see them, touch them and ride in them and from that understand our military heritage. We even dug up 2 gun barrels buried in a park in Dunedin so that we could restore them. There’s a gun battery position off the coast where the caretaker is trying to bring in a gun from Malta, so that she can restore the battery for posterity. Why? Because short-sighted governors and military people of the day could not see the heritage value of these things in the future and destroyed them.

“In February I raised this issue with the Minister of Defence, and I even raised it with the US Ambassador. The Minister assured me verbally that there might be a way of overcoming the US State Department’s concerns by issuing these vehicles on long term lease to bona-fide collectors and restorers on the proviso that they stay in New Zealand, and that he would pursue this and keep me informed.

“Since then we have heard nothing directly. Now out of the blue we read a report that says the decision has been made, and subsequent requests for information to the Ministers office reveal that this decision was as good as made months ago,’ said Mr Mark.

“New Zealand First is extremely disappointed that the Minister has not been able to keep his word and that as a result, for the sake of a half million dollars, New Zealanders who don’t live in Waiouru will lose a valuable their military history in, ironically, the Year of the Veteran,” he concluded.

ENDS

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