29 May 2014
Members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and New Zealand Government representatives joined members of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in a wreathlaying ceremony at Parliament today, to pay their respects to those who died in combat serving the Commonwealth, and to launch the 100 day countdown to the Invictus Games.
The NZDF and visiting dignitaries were hosted by British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell, who paid tribute to the sacrifices made by members of the Commonwealth, and to the courage and commitment of the NZDF team who will fly to London in September this year to participate in the Invictus Games.
The Games, whose patrons include the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Harry, is an international sporting competition for wounded, injured and sick Services personnel.
The NZDF will send a delegation of competitors from across all Services, both currently serving and veteran, to participate in a range of sporting activities at London’s Olympic venues, with the goal of raising awareness and recognition of the role of the Armed Forces.
Private (PTE) Dion Taka, one of the NZ contingent, is looking forward to getting to the UK and getting into the spirit of the Games. “I just want to get over there and give it heaps,” he says. “We’re going to win everything!”
Captain (CAPT) Aaron Soppet, who read the Invictus Poem at the wreathlaying, says that he is “honoured and pleasantly surprised to be part of the team”.
The team will compete against over 400 competitors from 13 other countries from 10-14 September. Activities include archery, athletics, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, road cycling, indoor rowing, lifting and sitting volleyball.
The Games also include a Partners and Friends programme, recognising the crucial role of the partners, families and friends who have supported the team members during their recovery and recuperation.
“This is a really important part of the Games for me,” says CAPT Soppet. “It’s a chance to show my appreciation for the support my wife has given me while I have been recuperating.” PTE Taka agreed, adding “Our spouses really deserve it. For Frances – she’s been my rock. She really deserves some first-class treatment.”
Any member of the team can compete in any activity, with sporting events being tiered to match the restrictions of the particular injury or illness of the competitors involved.