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Defence Minister To Meet Counterparts In UK, Italy

Defence Minister Judith Collins will this week travel to the UK and Italy to meet with her defence counterparts, and to attend Battles of Cassino commemorations.

“I am humbled to be able to represent the New Zealand Government in Italy at the commemorations for the 80th anniversary of what was one of the most brutal and costly battles New Zealand took part in during the Second World War.

“At the commemorations we will remember these battles and pay tribute to the 2176 New Zealanders who were killed and 6700 wounded during the Italian Campaign,” Ms Collins says.

Ms Collins will be one of a number of descendants of servicemen who fought at Cassino attending the commemorations and will proudly wear the medals of her late father, Percy Collins.

“I’m also very much looking forward to meeting Sir Robert ‘Bom’ Gillies, the last surviving member of the 28 (Maori) Battalion which so bravely fought in Cassino.”

While in Italy, Ms Collins will meet her Italian counterpart, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto. Ahead of the Italian leg of the trip she will visit the United Kingdom to meet her key counterparts Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps and Home Secretary James Cleverly.

“The UK’s assessment of the global strategic environment is deeply aligned to our own. Face-to-face meetings like this are important to show New Zealand is internationally engaged and connected with its partners,” Ms Collins says.

“Discussions will likely cover security challenges confronting Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific, as well as the devastating war in Ukraine.”

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Ms Collins will also travel to a British Army military base to meet New Zealand Defence Force Personnel training Ukrainian recruits to fight against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of their country.

Ms Collins leaves today and returns on May 22.

Note: The traditional spelling of 28 (Maori) Battalion, which includes no macron on the word ‘Māori’, reflects the spelling used at the time and in historical records.

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