5 April 2013
Eighty-four New Zealand veterans who served in the Pacific will attend commemorations in Noumea to mark the 70th anniversary of New Zealand’s involvement in the War in the Pacific.
The veterans, aged between 86 and 96 will travel to Noumea, New Caledonia, as part of the official delegation.
They will attend an Anzac Day service in Noumea on 25 April, and a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of New Zealand’s involvement in the War in the Pacific at the Bourail Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.
The Pacific War began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, and ended with the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945.
Nearly 25,000 New Zealanders across all three Services served at various times in the Pacific War, and more than 900 became casualties.
Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand General Manager, Rick Ottaway, says he is pleased so many New Zealand veterans have the opportunity to attend this commemoration.
"These men served New Zealand very close to home, at a time when New Zealand was under the possibility of direct threat.
"For many veterans, this will be the first time they have returned to the Pacific, and it will be an emotional experience as they remember their time there, and pay tribute the comrades they lost.
"Commemorating Anzac Day in the place where they served as young men will be equally as moving, and an opportunity I’m proud we can extend to so many of these brave men," Mr Ottaway said.
To be eligible to be part of the delegation, each veteran was required to have attested into the New Zealand Armed Forces between 8 December 1941 and 2 December 1945, and have been awarded, or qualified for, the Pacific Star of the Defence Medal for service in the Pacific.
All veterans have been medically assessed to ensure they are fit to travel and participate in the commemorative events in Noumea.
More than 170 expressions of interest were received, however more than 45 applications were subsequently withdrawn by veterans after reconsidering their ability to make the journey.
The delegation will travel to Noumea by Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAD) Boeing 757. All international travel, accommodation, on-ground transport, and medical costs for veterans are being funded by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand.
For further information please contact Katherine O’Donnell, Media Advisor – Defence Communications Group, on 021 664 293.
Veterans attending commemorations in Noumea are from the following locations in New Zealand:
Alexandra, Auckland, Balclutha, Blenheim, Christchurch, Cromwell, Dargaville, Dunedin, Feilding, Hamilton, Hikurangi, Kaitaia, Masterton, Matamata, Morrinsville, Mosgiel, Mount Maunganui, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Oamaru, Otaki, Rotorua, Takaka, Taupo, Tauranga, Te Awamutu, Wellington, Whanganui, Whangarei.
Most veterans are happy to be interviewed by media. To arrange an interview, please contact Katherine O’Donnell, Media Advisor – Defence Communications Group, on 021 664 293.