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Source: New Zealand Governor General

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou kātoa

Ann-yong ha-sae-yo yoro-būn (greetings everyone)

On behalf of my fellow New Zealanders, I first want to acknowledge the damage and suffering experienced here in Korea, following the recent heavy rainfall, and convey my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

Minister Park, honoured veterans, and distinguished guests, it is a great honour to stand before you today, as the Governor-General of New Zealand, on behalf the 22 United Nations Sending States paying tribute to the veterans who served in the Korean War.

The Korean War is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten War”. It must be our solemn duty to ensure this chapter of history is never forgotten.

Over 70 years ago, service personnel from nations around the world, including New Zealand, fought here with unwavering commitment and bravery.

Today, we recognise and remember those who answered that call of duty, leaving their homes and loved ones far behind to defend the principles we hold dear. We pay tribute to the soldiers who endured the challenges of extreme weather conditions and treacherous terrain, while confronting the relentless horrors of war.

They displayed remarkable resilience and adaptability in the unfamiliar environment, and forged strong bonds with their allies.

As we know, the cost of war extends far beyond the battlefield. When our veterans returned home, they bore the physical and emotional scars of their service. They faced the difficult task of readjusting to civilian life, often silently battling the invisible wounds of war.

Those who supported the troops from home – their friends, families and loved ones – gave our soldiers the strength to carry on.

I welcome this opportunity to pass on my sincere thanks to the Korean Government for their role in these commemorations. Thank you for remembering the sacrifices our veterans made, for always welcoming us back to your country, and especially for hosting us on this 70th Anniversary.

Today we reflect on the enduring legacy of the Korean War. The world witnessed the strength to be found when countries unite in their resolve to stand against aggression and oppression. The war remains a testament to the strength of the human spirit and our shared belief in the fundamental values of freedom, justice, and human rights.

The war also led to the division of the Korean Peninsula. Seventy years later, it remains divided –  and there is still no peace treaty. I know we all fervently hope for the  eventual reunification of Korea and the healing of the pain of separation.

To our Korean War veterans here today, we offer our heartfelt gratitude. Your dedication and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed. You have earned the respect and admiration of your compatriots, and we owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid. In showing great courage in the face of adversity, you inspired us all to serve causes greater than ourselves.

The best way we, as nations, can choose to honour the veterans who fought in Korea, is to continue striving for peace and prosperity in our international relations.

May we never forget the sacrifices made during the Korean War, and may we always strive to uphold the ideals of peace, freedom, and justice for which our veterans fought.

My sincere thanks for the opportunity to speak this evening.

Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua.

Kam-sam-ni-da (thank you)