16 October 2012
Coastwatcher John Jones, His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor-General of New Zealand, and Hon David Carter lay roses on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
New Zealand Coastwatchers who served throughout the Pacific in World War Two were commemorated with a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial in Wellington.
On 15 October 1942, seventeen New Zealand Coastwatchers were executed by the Japanese military in what is now Kiribati. The last surviving member, John Jones, who now lives in Auckland, was among those paying respect on Monday.
The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand, government ministers, the Chief of Defence Force, the Chief of Navy and the Deputy Chief of Army.
During the Second World War, New Zealand established up to 62 coastwatching stations on various islands throughout the Pacific
, in order to track enemy movements and report them back to the Allied forces.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Rhys Jones said that the Coastwatcher story is one of heroism, sacrifice and suffering, and it is one that is not widely known.
"They were sent to coastwatching stations to keep a constant watch for enemy movement, both on sea and in the air, and were responsible for reporting this to their headquarters via radio and wireless transmission. As a result of this dedication, a number were killed and many of the remainder endured years of captivity as prisoners of war.
"We are committed to paying tribute to all New Zealand Coastwatchers, and in particular honouring the memory of those who died, recognising the sacrifice they have made. This recognition is overdue," says LTGEN Jones."
The Coastwatchers are memorialised at a memorial in the New Zealand Military Cemetery in Bourail, New Caledonia.
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