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Heather Roy's Diary

Posted on 17 Jul 2009

One Small Step For Man...
This Saturday television viewers will be treated to a re-run of what is, in my opinion, one of the best adventure movies ever - Tom Hanks' 'Apollo 13', which is being screened to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16 1969.

It took three days for Apollo and her crew to reach, and establish orbit around, the moon - with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin leaving the main part of the spacecraft on July 20 to pilot the lunar module to the moon's surface.

The mission's perilousness tends to be underestimated; there was no way that the lunar module could be tested using the conditions it would encounter on the moon and it is a little known fact that President Nixon had two speeches ready for the waiting world: one in the event of a successful mission, and another - never used - in case the astronauts were killed.

In any event, the lunar module 'Eagle' was piloted to the Sea of Tranquillity - named so by early astronomers who assumed the moon's large dark areas were seas, and which are now thought to be large areas of lava dating from an age when the moon had volcanic activity.

As it turned out, the Eagle's planned landing zone was covered in boulders and Neil Armstrong elected to fly on in search of a smoother site. Although he was successful in this, the module contained less than a minute's worth of fuel when it finally touched down.

In 1969 there was no satellite TV, and New Zealand was on the wrong side of the Earth to see the event live. This meant that those determined to hear of the landing had to listen by radio to Armstrong's famous words: "The Eagle has landed."

Surprisingly, the astronauts didn't leave the Eagle immediately. Film of the landings was flown to New Zealand and we watched the astronauts lope around on the moon's surface. Their movements were intriguing - heavy spacesuits protected them from cosmic rays and micro-asteroids and, with the moon's gravity around 80 percent weaker than Earth's, they took huge strides with modest effort. We watched avidly as they practised loping with two legs together and jumping, ending up with a sort of canter that would be impossible to emulate on Earth.

The moonscape proved a major disappointment. Despite many guesses about the terrain, it all looked the same - everything looked like sand dunes and it was impossible to judge distances. A number of space rocks were returned to Earth and geology benefited from the discoveries.

While it seemed then that a major scientific breakthrough had been achieved, in retrospect, the space race was mainly a manifestation of US and USSR rivalry.

Since that day, numerous other Apollo missions were scheduled but - as the programme was cancelled after Apollo 17 - only six more moon landings were to follow. In total, only 12 men belong to that elite group of individuals who have actually walked the surface of the moon.

Following that first moon landing, it seemed the sky was no longer the limit; many predicted that moon bases, galaxy travel - including voyages to Mars - and much more were to follow.

The technology developed was impressive, and most of the equipment that the huge Saturn rockets hoisted into space was designed to keep humans alive in a very hostile environment.

But little of what was thought to be the start of a new era in space travel, and of how humans could utilise space, has come to pass in any practical way - most of the day-to-day tasks can be completed more effectively and safely by robots.

Space has been best utilised as the home of satellites - now commonplace and taken for granted - giving us great advances in technology and an ability to access information that would have seemed impossible only a few decades ago.

Looking to the future, as we grow more dependent on communications, the battle will not be a race to reach the moon or Mars - it will be for control of the electromagnetic spectrum: cyberspace. This control, and the intelligence it provides, will become critical to national and international security; cyberspace is now a recognised battlespace for all major powers.

The main change brought about by the space programme was in our attitude to Earth and the vastness of the universe. Standing on its surface, the Earth seems enormous. Watching it rise above the horizon of the moon, however, it looks beautiful - but very, very small.

Lest We Forget - New Zealand Artillery Opens Fire In Vietnam
On July 16 1965, New Zealand Artillery opened fire for the first time in the Vietnam War when the 161 Battery - stationed at Bien Hoa air base near Saigon - opened fire on a Viet Cong position in support of the American 173rd Airborne Brigade.

From June 1964-December 1972, around 3,500 New Zealand military personnel served in South Vietnam - reaching its peak in 1968 when the New Zealand force numbered 543.

In total, 37 New Zealand personnel died on active service and 187 were wounded in Vietnam - the first war that New Zealand fought without our traditional ally Great Britain, reflecting our strengthening defence ties with the US and Australia.

Our involvement in Vietnam drew protest and condemnation here and abroad - and the then National Government was cautious in its approach. The first response was to send a New Zealand Civilian Surgical Team in 1963. Under continuing US pressure, this was followed in 1964 by 25 Army engineers to work on reconstruction projects like road and bridge building.

The decision to send combat forces was made in May 1965. The Royal New Zealand Artillery's 161 Battery was deployed to South Vietnam, replacing the Engineers in July, and initially placed under the command of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade at Bien Hoa. From June 1966 it served with Royal Australian Artillery field regiments at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy Province, east of Saigon, and remained in Vietnam until May 1971.


Heather Roy's Diary

Posted on 10 Jul 2009

The World Is Watching
People who have moved house since the 2008 election have until the end of today to update their electoral details if they wish to vote in the upcoming referendum on the controversial Anti-Smacking law.

From July 31-August 21, New Zealanders will be asked to answer the question: "Should a smack, as part of good parental correction, be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

The anti-smacking issue has split the New Zealand public from Parliament - which voted 113-eight in support of the Anti-Smacking Bill in 2007, and ignored polls showing that 80 percent of New Zealanders opposed the legislation at the time. People could be forgiven for thinking that the politicians just aren't listening.

The Anti-Smacking Bill (repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act) was promoted as the solution to the terrible abuse suffered by too many children. It was believed by some that, by making it a crime for parents to smack their children, levels of abuse would drop - and we would see no more cases like that of Lillybing, Delcelia Witika and James Whakaruru.

The debate has relied on emotion rather than reason, and focussed on rules rather than results. Before this legislation we already had laws in place that were explicit about violent behaviour and which imposed punishments on those who chose to inflict violence on others. And, in the 25 months since this law was passed, 13 children have been killed - including Jyniah Te Awa, Nia Glassie, and Tahani Mahomed.

Thanks to this law, good parents, who wouldn't dream of abusing their children, are now guilty of committing a crime by lightly smacking as part of good parenting. Meanwhile, violent abusers continue to beat children to a pulp.

But, while it was unrealistic to think this behaviour would change with the implementation of a new law, will State intrusion into good parents' homes end? National flip-flopped on the Bill after opposing it, and didn't support its own MP Chester Borrows' amendments to make it clear a light smack for the purpose of correction would be within the law.

Worse, it was made clear that the decision as to whether someone had acted inappropriately or not would be left for police to make on a case-by-case basis. Good laws must be clear, enforceable, and routinely enforced.

Now ACT stands alone in Parliament as the only Party campaigning for parents' rights. We are re-introducing Chester Borrows' amendments as a Members Bill in the name of ACT MP John Boscawen. This Bill won't take us back to when people could beat children with a weapon, tool or implement without being prosecuted - but it will allow parents to give a light smack for correction so long as the result is no more than ‘transitory' or ‘trifling' (wording recommended by the Law Commission).

ACT is also alone in championing democratic process. The Prime Minister has indicated that, despite over 300,000 people signing a petition to hold this referendum, the law won't be repealed regardless of the referendum's results unless he can be persuaded it's not working.

And it is not just New Zealanders awaiting the outcome of this referendum. In just over a week I have been interviewed by Australia's ABC Radio National Breakfast programme (, and quoted by the ‘Australian' newspaper (,25197,25730591-25918,00.htm...) and US online news service (

The world is watching - to see whether New Zealand will tolerate State intrusion into homes, and to see if we will uphold the principles of democracy.
As both a mother and a politician, I want to see an end to the abhorrent abuse suffered by far too many children in our country. But a law that targets the wrong people, and which the police do not even have to enforce, is no solution.

The upcoming referendum is the first step toward repealing the Anti-Smacking law and finding that solution. It's time we focussed on the behaviour of the thugs and bullies - the real perpetrators of child abuse.

Lest We Forget - Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior (July 10 1985)
On Wednesday I visited former military prison Ardmore - now just a concrete pad - which was used for a short time for incarceration of the French agents responsible for the sinking of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior.

Involved in protests over French nuclear testing in the Pacific, Rainbow Warrior was docked in Auckland before heading to another protest at Mururoa Atoll. On July 10 1985 two bombs set by French agents Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur tore the ship apart, killing crewmember Fernando Pereira.

The agents were arrested on July 24 and New Zealand was outraged: although the attack was on Greenpeace, it was carried out in our territory by a supposedly friendly nation. The agents were charged with murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.

The case embarrassed the French government and resulted in a deterioration in New Zealand-French relations, with France threatening an economic embargo of New Zealand's exports to the EEC if the agents weren't released. It also prompted a flotilla of private New Zealand yachts to sail to Mururoa to protest the French test.

In 1986 France agreed to pay $13 million and apologise to New Zealand; in return, Mafart and Prieur would be detained at the French military base on Hao Atoll for three years. However, both agents spent less than two years on the atoll and had both returned to France by May 1988. As this violated the agreement, France was required to pay further reparations.


Defence Review 09 Momentum Starting To Build

Posted on 07 Jul 2009

Just over a week after its launch, the public consultation phase of Defence Review 2009 has been received well and has already drawn a positive response, Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy said today.

"The Defence Review 2009 public consultation document - released at Te Papa on June 26 - has proved to be an effective tool in gathering the views of the public on the direction of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) into the future," Mrs Roy said.

"Copies of the document and the Review 09 brochure, both containing a submission form, have been distributed at 491 schools throughout the country - as well as to all public libraries in New Zealand.

"Copies can also be obtained from local RSAs, Waiouru’s National Army Museum Te Mata Toa, and the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch. Submissions can also be made at the Ministry of Defence website

"The NZDF is an integral part of New Zealand society and belongs to all New Zealanders. Defence Review 2009 is an opportunity for all Kiwis to play a part in determining the path that the NZDF will take out to 2035.

"I encourage all New Zealanders young and old to take up this opportunity and make a submission to ensure that their views and input are recorded for consideration," Mrs Roy said.


New Zealand On The Global Stage Into The Future

Posted on 04 Jul 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to the Model United Nations Conference; Rutherford House, Victoria University, Thorndon, Wellington; Saturday, July 4 2009.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

United Nations Youth Association President Matt McGrath, Model United Nations Coordinator Nigel Smith, Honourable Delegates of this Model United Nations, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.

This is the 10th annual New Zealand Model United Nations conference run by the United Nations Youth Association of New Zealand. It is also 10 years since that association - of which you are all now members - was established.

You have come a long way. Congratulations on continuing to educate young New Zealanders about the important issues facing the world - a world that your generation will soon lead.

As a Wellington-based MP I welcome you all to our nation's capital from all around New Zealand. As a Minister in our Government I want to remind you of the importance of being aware of, and engaged with, the world around you.

I know you will make the most of this opportunity to prepare yourselves for leadership of this country, and of the world - starting today with setting aside your own personal opinions and views to represent the issues and challenges of your 'adopted' countries signified by the flags in front of you.

It is very fitting that the United Nations will play such a central role in your next few days, as it plays a central role in our world affairs. New Zealand has often engaged successfully with the UN - both to pursue our own interests, and to advance the interests of humankind.

As a small country in the South Pacific, with a population of a little over four million, we have had an influence seemingly beyond our means. New Zealand has been able to punch above its weight in this way because, in times of global uncertainty, small countries like New Zealand rely even more heavily on an effective international rules-based system to deal with issues of great importance to us.

That is what the United Nations provides. Let me give you an example: a UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf recently affirmed New Zealand's right to around 1.7 million square kilometres of extended continental shelf seabed. Thanks to the UN, no one can challenge our rights to whatever natural resources might be on the seabed that we control.

We have had to work hard to protect interests like these - no one else will do it for us. But, because we speak at the United Nations we are heard by the global community, we do not have to work alone.

Rather than being a lone voice in a world without rules we have a broad base on which to build partnerships as, and where, they are needed. We can act in concert with the global community - from the United Kingdom to Uruguay, from Canada to Costa Rica - to develop balanced, coordinated approaches by the United Nations system to global challenges. We do this for our own good, but we have also often taken a leadership role for the common good.

An example of this is the lead role in international affairs that former Prime Minister Helen Clark has recently taken up in her appointment as head of the United Nations Development Programme. Miss Clark will require considerable skill to uphold the programmes functions of poverty reduction, improving democratic governance, crisis prevention, alleviating environmental degradation and stemming the tide of HIV/AIDS.

All politics aside, it was with good wishes and pride in the success of a fellow Kiwi that we recently farewelled Miss Clark form our Parliament and congratulated her on her appointment to the third-ranked position in the UN.

As well as Miss Clark's appointment, other New Zealanders have reached the highest levels of the United Nations - Sir Kenneth Keith currently sits as a judge on the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

It is good to hear that a Model Security Council is to be incorporated into your conference this year. This is an important institution to consider here, as it holds much influence within the UN system. New Zealand has been an effective player within this institution also - we were last on the Security Council from 1993-94. During this time the world was confronted with the tragic humanitarian situations in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Somalia.

New Zealand - taking our turn as President of the Security Council - was among the first to support the idea of an expanded United Nations presence in Rwanda when details of the terrible genocide emerged.

Our principled positions and hard work on many tough issues earned us widespread respect during our tenure on the Council. In that case, we did our bit to uphold the promise of the United Nations Charter: "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."

But, as I'm sure you will learn, interacting with the Security Council is not completely without regard for our national interests. A seat at the Council also serves our national interest in a number of ways.

Working daily on pressing international issues with the US, China, the UK, France and Russia presents an unrivalled opportunity to develop and enhance our bilateral ties with those countries - the world's most powerful nations.

A seat on the Security Council automatically bestows a position of leadership - particularly on regional security matters. In this regard, our regional ties are strengthened.

Further, our economic interests are best served when we have our political relationships in good order. We have to work hard to convince other countries that we are worth dealing with and a constructive role on the Security Council presents significant opportunities to do so.

So, the United Nations has much to offer. Our engagement with the UN advances both our national interests, and the common global good. And it is for this reason that our engagement continues.

In September, Prime Minister John Key will travel to New York for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly where he will set out our ambitions for the future of the UN.

I don't want to, however, leave you with a rose-tinted - and, thus, false - impression of this organisation. The United Nations is far from perfect. Even as we speak here today negotiations are taking place in New York to reform the Security Council, in order to make it more effective and more representative of the broader United Nations membership.

I encourage you to take these issues into consideration in your Model Security Council. But don't be disheartened if solutions are slow in coming - this has been the subject of debate for 14 years in New York with little progress!

In fact, when playing the key role in the writing of the UN Charter 64 years ago, former Prime Minister Peter Fraser argued against the establishment of permanent members of the Security Council with veto powers.

He may well have been right. In 2009, the Permanent Members of the Security Council are defined by the fact that they were the victors of World War II - even though, 64 years later, the world has changed; the power and political position of various states waxes and wanes.

Perhaps it is time to consider whether emerging powers should play a greater role in the Security Council. This is a matter that you will be asked to consider over the course of the conference.

I said earlier that New Zealand was one of the first countries to advocate for intervention in Rwanda. This is true, and it is something of which we should be proud. But it does not change the fact that the United Nations, collectively, acted too late to prevent the genocide of 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis.

While these failures are serious, however, we do not need to reinvent the wheel - just improve it. And there is much to indicate that these improvements are possible.

Today, more than 100,000 UN Peacekeepers are in the field on 15 operations actively preventing the spread of conflict. These personnel are drawn from many different member-states, and serve to demonstrate the level of commitment and confidence that those states have in the UN.

I'm proud, as Associate Defence Minister - and as a member of the New Zealand Army - that New Zealand has an illustrious history in this regard also.

We welcome the new US Administration's interest in multilateralism and will work closely with them and other friends to make the UN more accountable and effective, so it can fulfil its true potential.

It is important that New Zealand is ready to continue this work into the next generation. There are significant challenges to grapple with. How to future-proof the UN requires, for example, a solution to integrating the growing number of non-state actors and the future relevance of the nation-state. Trans-border issues are numerous and complex. For instance, cyberspace - the entire magnetic spectrum - is now recognised battlespace for all the major powers. What is it that will spark future conflict - a possible World War III? The answers might be surprising - the lack of fresh water? Antarctica and its resources? Space? These are all thoughts for you to ponder.

You can imagine now, even here in New Zealand, the challenges that we have in our Defence Review of contemplating the environment out to 2035.

I wish you all the best as you go into two days of debate in the various committees of the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, and in your Plenary session on Tuesday.

While I do not expect your task over the next few days to be easy, I do hope that your energy and commitment will contribute some fresh perspective on the multitude of issues that the UN faces today - and, most importantly, uphold and represent those ideals that were written into its Charter in 1945.

I would like to thank you for this opportunity to talk to you here today, and I wish you well for New Zealand Model United Nations 2009.


Heather Roy's Diary

Posted on 03 Jul 2009

Friends And Allies
As a Minister my days consist of appointments following briefings, following meetings and more. The engagements I've had this week include attending a special reception to celebrate the United States' 233rd anniversary of independence, and tomorrow night I am giving a speech to the opening of the New Zealand Model United Nations 2009 - a youth forum where each delegate represents a nation state and debates topical issues.

New Zealand has enjoyed a long friendship with the US, which first established consular representation in New Zealand in 1839 - 170 years ago - to represent and protect American shipping and whaling interests.

Possibly the strongest link that New Zealand has with the US, however, is in the area of defence. Kiwi and US soldiers have fought together in two world wars, and our two nations have worked together in theatres of war throughout the 20th Century.

For instance: 400,000 US soldiers were billeted in New Zealand - mainly in Auckland and Wellington - during WWII before being sent to fight in Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Leyte Gulf and Guadalcanal.

It is also interesting to note that, following WWII, the US and New Zealand were closely related when working almost exclusively for the formation of the United Nations in 1945.

Just six years later, those links were strengthened with the signing of the Australia New Zealand United States (ANZUS) security treaty - a military alliance binding Australia and New Zealand, and Australia and the US to cooperate on defence matters in the Pacific.

The years since have seen New Zealand co-operate with the US in Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War.

Today, despite differences in nuclear policy, our relationship with the US remains an important one for New Zealand. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) continues to work alongside US forces in a number of operations in pursuit of shared interests.

One of the key components of this is the international campaign against terrorism, with New Zealand providing troops - including special forces units - and naval ships in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the US' official name for the war in Afghanistan.

New Zealand has played no small part in co-operation with the US; the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan's Bamian province, three deployments of a frigate to the Gulf of Oman, and in 2003-04 engineering teams to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq.

New Zealand also actively contributes to, and participates in, the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative.

These commitments and efforts are appreciated by the US, which has stated that it views New Zealand as both a friend and an ally - continuing the relationship that our two nations built so many years ago and have nurtured ever since.

Friends In The East
Another engagement I attended this week was a celebration of Singapore Armed Forces Day - Singapore is another nation with which New Zealand has a history of military co-operation.

New Zealand's military ties with Singapore date back to 1955 - when the Royal New Zealand Air Force No 14 (Fighter) Squadron was sent to Singapore to form part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve and carry out operations against terrorists in the Malayan jungle - and form a significant part of the New Zealand-Singapore relationship.

Sixteen years later, in 1971, the New Zealand and Singapore Governments formalised arrangements for training assistance and other co-operation. This agreement was in parallel with the establishment of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) - a joint defence arrangement providing a basis for continuing defence co-operation between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

Today, New Zealand's defence relationship with Singapore - the second most active after that with Australia - is increasingly strong and balanced. New Zealand undertakes an extensive range of naval, air and army exercises with Singapore - conducted both bilaterally and multilaterally - and Singapore, in overall activity terms, is New Zealand's second largest defence partner in the Asia-Pacific after Australia.

In fact, the maturity of New Zealand's defence relationship with Singapore - and our history of military co-operation - yield significant benefits for both countries.

This could be seen in Singapore deciding to send combat troops overseas as part of the New Zealand battalion group in Timor-Leste in 2001. This smooth integration of its troops into the New Zealand Area of Operations was Singapore's first experience in contributing ground troops to a peacekeeping operation. Since then, Singaporean forces have also operated with the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.

Lest We Forget - 2nd (Canterbury Nelson Marlborough West Coast)
Last weekend I attended a charter parade in Christchurch's Cathedral Square and a formal dinner to celebrate the start of the 2Cants (NMWC) Battalion Group 150th year anniversary.

Established as the Nelson Militia in 1854 and raised under the Militia Act, the current 2Cants unit was formed 1964 as an amalgamation of the 1 Canterbury and 1 Nelson Marlborough West Coast Battalions.

With such notable New Zealanders as Jack Hinton VC, Sgt Eric Bachelor DCM and Bar, and Sir Charles Upham VC and Bar having served in its ranks it is only fitting that 2CANT's motto is: 'Ake, ake, ake, kia kaha - forever and ever be strong.'


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