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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.'

ENDS

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