Saturday, 10 October 2009

A momentous morning in North Shore City

His Worship the Mayor Andrew Williams hosted a morning tea at 10 am and the dignitaries included The Prime Minister the Honorable John Key and His Excellency the Ambassador of Belgium Patrick Renault, The Minister of Defence the Honorable Dr Wayne Mapp and local Members of Parliament. The Mayor of Waimakariri Ron Keating was joined by the Mayor of Manukau Len Brown and many other community leaders.

The dignitaries proceeded to the front of the North Shore Council Chamber to watch the Auckland and District Pipe Band arrive with a skirl of the pipes and drums followed by a group of old soldiers and New Zealand citizens who received loud applause from the huge crowd. Then followed the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery Band and a hundred defence force soldiers, sailors and air force personnel. All received warm applause from the citizens of North Shore City.

Kamatua Morgan Peeni spoke in Maori and offered a prayer.

Mayor Williams was invited to inspect the Defence Forces on parade and the Ambassador joined him whilst the Artillery Band played.

The Mayor then spoke of the importance of commemorating the sacrifices of New Zealanders at Passchendaele and on the Western Front and His Excellency replied by confirming the gratitude of the people of Belgium to the sacrifices made by New Zealanders 92 years ago. As the rain began to fall the Ambassador remarked that it made him feel very much at home !

The Prime Minister then emphasised the links between New Zealand and Belgium and spoke about the similarity in the roles that both nations were playing in peace keeping activities throughout the world. He confirmed that the New Zealand Government was looking at ways of commemorating Passchendaele as a signifiant part of New Zealands history, culture and heritage.

Wreaths were laid at the North Shore City Council Memorial and then the National Anthems of both Countries were played..

The parade then marched off towards the sea and returned to march past the Mayor who took the officicial salute and again the crowds showed an emotional response in honouring the bands and the marchers.

The Dignitaries then returned to a civic reception provided by the North Shore City Council where the Belgians in informal speeches stressed the warm and human response of the North Shore Community and how they felt truly welcomed in New Zealand.

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