Thursday 27 April 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, Local, National
Makea Karika George Ariki, New Zealand High Commissioner Tui Dewes and Australian High Commissioner Phoebe Smith and Cook Islands RSA President Tom Anna received Ngāti Tūmatauenga servicemen and women with a special turou (welcome).
On behalf of the High Commission of Aotearoa New Zealand, Dewes said “it’s an honour to be part of this turou to welcome you, our New Zealand Defence Force representatives and veterans, to Rarotonga.”
Dewes said she had no doubt they would have a memorable time in the Cook Islands, including because of the closeness of the bilateral relationship.
“As well as our special constitutional ties, we also share whakapapa links that go all the way back to the days of Te Ui Tupuna.”
She said the Anzac Day service is also a reminder of the “important role that Cook Islanders played in our shared WW1 effort.”
Reflecting on how hard the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) veterans have worked in the service of Aotearoa New Zealand, she wished them all a restful and really enjoyable time in the Cook Islands.
Dewes thanked the Cook Islands hosts, the Cook Islands RSA, for welcoming her fellow kiwis so warmly, and the Australian High Commissioner for her presence at the turou, and for demonstrating that the Anzac spirit is alive and well in the Cook Islands.
Smith stood to honour the tradition of remembering those who have served and to all those who continue to serve.
“For more than a century, Australian and New Zealand Defence forces have served around the world.
“Today, I recognize and pay tribute to the Cook Islanders, who fought alongside our troops in WWI and other wars since,” said Smith.
Ngāti Tūmatauenga ’s Sergeant Major Danny Broughton, Major Patrick Hibbs (both retired) and NZDF Maori Cultural Advisor to the Chief of Defence Force Tamaterangi Andrew who has ties to the Cook Islands also addressed the occasion.
Major Patrick Hibbs said, “serving together is exactly that, the service on behalf of our respected countries.
“When we go away we are always together it doesn’t matter what service, what branch, we are together.”
“For you to invite us to your home to honour our service and your service you only bring an even greater honour to us all,” he said.
On behalf of the New Zealand Defence Force veterans who served in South East Asia, Major Hibbs said “I thank you for every element of your hospitality… and for the opportunity for us to rekindle those friendships.”
Ngāti Tūmatauenga gifted a pounamu to the Cook Islands RSA which was presented by Rachel Bercic to the RSA President Tom Annas.