Fiji, NZ share security interest, says Mark

New Zealand Minister for Defense Ron Mark shares a light moment with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama, after the official unveilING of the RNZAF commemorative monument at USP on Friday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

New Zealand Minister for Defense Ron Mark shares a light moment with the Prime Minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama, after the official unveilING of the RNZAF commemorative monument at USP on Friday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

NEW Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark says Fiji has a longstanding military relationship with New Zealand based on shared security interest that dates back to World War II.

Mr Mark echoed these sentiments while officiating at the unveiling of the commemorative monument in recognition of the service of veterans from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) flying boat operations, based at Laucala Bay in Suva, from 1941 to 1967, at the University of the South Pacific in Laucala Bay in Suva on Friday night.

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

Mr Mark said friendship was underpinned by the enduring ties between the New Zealand and Fijian people, who have worked side by side in distant lands for the cause of international peace and security, and closer to home in our own communities, such as during Exercise Southern Katipo, or after the devastating Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.

“This memorial stands as a reminder of how deep those ties run in our communities and the need to continue to engage and work together, united by shared values and as neighbours.

“By doing so, we honour the contribution made by our veterans to freedoms we enjoy, and from which our descendants will continue to benefit.”

PM Voreqe Bainimarama paid tribute to the veterans and talked about his own fond memories of the RNZAF at Laucala Bay.

“Today, we commemorate the proud record of RNZAF service to our region, which continues today with the aerial surveillance and rescue missions you still fly from the New Zealand mainland. You are among friends who deeply appreciate your personal service to Fiji and especially the strong bonds you helped forge between our nations that endure today,” he said.

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