Monument unveiled to recognise RNZAF veterans

The staff of the University of the South Pacific at the unveiling of the RNZAF commemorative monument at the Laucala campus yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

The staff of the University of the South Pacific at the unveiling of the RNZAF commemorative monument at the Laucala campus yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Update: 11:44AM A COMMEMORATIVE monument was unveiled at the University of the South Pacific yesterday to recognise the service of veterans from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) flying boat operations that were based at Laucala Bay in Suva from 1941 to 1967.

RNZAF’s No. 5 Squadron conducted anti-submarine patrols, maritime reconnaissance and transport and air-sea rescue missions, flying Short Singapore, Consolidated Catalina and Short Sunderland aircraft. 

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, while speaking at the event, paid tribute to the veterans and talked about his own fond memories of the RNZAF at Laucala Bay.

He said the event commemorated the proud record of RNZAF service to our region, which continued today with the aerial surveillance and rescue missions.

New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark said the memorial stood as a reminder of how deep those ties ran in our communities.

“We have a long-standing military relationship based on shared security interests that date from World War II,” he said.

Meanwhile, Laucala Bay veterans, a contingent of RNZAF personnel including current members of No. 5 Squadron, the RNZAF band, and Maori culture group travelled to Fiji to attend the commemoration, which was also part of USP’s 50th-anniversary celebrations.