Minister of Defence Peeni Henare will depart tomorrow for Solomon Islands to attend events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
While in Solomon Islands, Minister Henare will also meet with Solomon Islands Minister of National Security, Correctional Services and Police Anthony Veke to continue cooperation on security and maritime matters.
Official events marking the 80th anniversary of the US Marine Corps landing at Guadalcanal will include US, Japanese, Australia HMAS Canberra and Bloody Ridge memorials.
“It is important to be there in person to represent New Zealand and pay our respects to those who served in the Solomon Island during World War II,” Peeni Henare said.
“While New Zealand was not initially involved in this operation, New Zealand forces from the three services were subsequently involved in the naval battles around the island, the RNZAF conducted air operations from Solomon Islands, and the Army used this location as a base for island hopping operations.
“I speak for all New Zealanders in saying we are truly grateful for the sacrifices these service people have made for Aotearoa, and we honour them by gathering in their memory.
“New Zealand has a long history of security engagement in the Solomon Islands, from World War II to our contributions to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands from 2003 until 2017 and most recently the Solomon Islands International Assistance Force (SIAF).
“During my visit, I will be meeting with Minister Veke to continue discussions since we last met in June at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. We discussed a range of matters, including the ongoing deployment of New Zealand Defence Force personnel to Solomon Islands under the SIAF. We also discussed further opportunities to partner with Solomon Islands on security matters and co-operation on maritime security.
“Co-operation on maritime security is an important part of our engagement on security issues. New Zealand supports the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency’s monitoring, control, and surveillance work that helps Pacific countries combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. I am looking forward to visiting the Agency during my trip and meeting key personnel who support this important work.
“New Zealand has supported the peace and stability of the Solomon Islands and will continue to remain an active and engaged security partner as part of the Pacific family,” Peeni Henare said.
The Minister will travel to the Solomon Islands on a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules. The delegation will include Secretary of Defence, Andrew Bridgman, Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour, as well as Victoria Cross recipient Mr Willie Apiata, members of the New Zealand Defence Force and senior officials. The delegation returns to New Zealand on Tuesday 9 August.