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How important it is to pay respect

It was a privilege to attend the opening of Te Arawhata, the New Zealand Liberation Museum in Le Quesnoy, France.

Prior to the opening, Mike and I travelled to Flanders Fields, our NZ Memorials, and Tyne Cot Cemetery, which is the largest in the world, and attended the last post at the Menin Gate, carried out daily since it opened in 1928. This was attended by around 300 people on the day I was there.

The meaning of being at rest in friendly soil became apparent as the gratitude and love that remains for all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice was very visible, and just what that meant to their families to provide freedoms and privileges to those who lived on and followed became very apparent. The war is visible in everyday life and everywhere from the masses of graves, each and every one immaculately cared for and beautiful. New Zealand soldiers lie in each and there is a dedicated ANZAC Memorial Cemetery which has that feel as you walk the path. We are included in the Flanders Museum and always use the words “From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth” in reverence for the distance we travelled to their aid.

While we are included, there is no specific place to tell our story but now Te Arawhata New Zealand Liberation Museum has provided that place for New Zealanders to visit and hear our stories. History shows the capture of Le Quesnoy was one of the most dramatic moments in the Division’s history.

Every day you can feel the gratitude and honour they have for the people of New Zealand who gave them back their freedom.

Every two years, we celebrate our Charter Parade with the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment [RNZIR]. This charter allows the Defence Force to march on ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, colours flying, drums beating and bands playing through the streets.

The parade will take place along Main Street, Pahiatua at 10am prior to the Armistice Service on Saturday, November 11. This is a very formal and spectacular parade which the army enjoy bringing to Tararua, staying for our Armistice Service and spending time following at our RSA.

We would love you to come along and show your support for the Battalion. It always gives me great pride and confidence knowing they are by our side when we need them. It is a very special relationship. The Battalion also support us during our Armistice and Anzac services, takes part in the A&P show and is available whenever we need them, so please come along and see what happens when our new police Senior Sergeant Carey Williamson accepts their challenge.

Attending an Armistice Service means a great deal to those who serve and honours those who have enabled the rights and privileges we enjoy today.

In 2018, then Commanding Officer Aidan Shattock, initiated the project to establish a memorial wall at Linton Military Camp to honour the 97 fallen soldiers of the 1st Battalion, NZ Regiment and the 1st Battalion, Royal NZ Infantry Regiment. As part of our special relationship, I attended this opening on Saturday, October 24 and enjoyed the company of some of our past local members of the Battalion.

Kei ware ware tatou – Lest we forget

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