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Heather Roy speech to Malayan Vet's Association

Malayan Veterans Reunion

Hon Heather Roy, Associate Minister Of Defence
Friday, October 23 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to Malayan Veterans' Association 21st Reunion; Manurewa RSA, Auckland; Friday, October 23 2009.

Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand, Maori King Tuheitia Paki, Parliamentary colleagues, High Commissioners of Malaysia and Singapore, distinguished guests, overseas visitors, ladies and gentlemen and most importantly, veterans of the Malayan and Malaysian campaigns.

May I begin by acknowledging those past, who cannot be here today. I know that their wairua, their spirit, moves amongst us.

It is a great honour and very humbling to speak to you today as a Government Minister at this gathering to acknowledge all those who fought in the cause of freedom, in the campaigns of Malaya and Malaysia.

To serve your country is an honourable and unique undertaking. The campaigns that we remember this weekend represent the nexus of the old and the new in terms of how New Zealand raised, trained and deployed its armed forces. It does not matter how you came to the profession of arms. Neither does it matter whether your service was full-time, part-time; of long or short duration nor which service or unit you were employed in. What matters is that you served with honour, dignity and bravery.

In doing so, you became members of a relatively small number of Kiwis who understand what it means to put aside personal liberty, so that others can enjoy theirs. To serve others before self is an honourable undertaking in any country, culture or era.

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Military service is unique in so many ways but its defining marks are personal risk and that you can't just quit when you've had enough. I know, as I look around the audience now, that you are not quitters and New Zealand society is the better for your example over the years. The risk to peace that caused your country to ask what they did of you in the 1950s and 1960s was very real. We may never know, for sure, what the outcome might have been, had you not played your part but, personally, I believe that we would undoubtedly enjoy far less freedom today, than we now do.

There is no group in the world that can be compared to the profession of arms and I am very proud to be a part of it. We hear frequent comment in society on the need for more leaders. In making the choice that you did, you answered this call. You chose the path less travelled - one of personal sacrifice - of service to others – of putting their needs and the greater good above your own interest. The nation entrusted you with its safe-keeping and its reputation and you answered that call.
 
To the partners, children, parents and whanau here and the many who couldn’t attend, I also offer the heartfelt thanks of all New Zealanders for your contribution, service and sacrifice so that the mothers, children and extended families of countries far from our shores, people that you never met, could live in safety.

Your service to the country and our region did not start and stop with deployments but went on continually, through operations, courses, exercises and even beyond the retirement of your loved ones from our Armed Forces.

I know that many of your families will have new generations of servicemen and women in their midst. I want you to know that your sacrifices are the lifeblood of our forces. You are the ones that gave then, and will go on giving in the future, these servicemen and those that follow them the will to serve, strive, survive and return.

New Zealand salutes you all and those who have passed before you for your honour and uniqueness as the very best of Kiwi citizens. By your service in Malaya, you demonstrated your understanding of the relationship between freedom, choice and personal responsibility. You know the price of citizenship. Pass on your knowledge and enjoy your hard-won peace – lest we forget from where it came.

ENDS

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