In 2001 Geoff Dixon travelled with the EVSA ‘Nam’ travel group to attend the opening
of the New Zealand Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.
The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark and the Australian Prime Minister,
John Howard shared the duties of each memorial
They are two 11.5 metre high kete (maori basket) handles which represent co-operation,
working together, mutual experiences and sharing the load.
The NZ Memorial is on the eastern side of Anzac Parade, the Aust on the western side.
Both are at the entrance to the other magnificent conflict memorials leading up to the
Australian War Memorial.
Inscribed on the wall of the NZ Memorial is a traditional maori proverb;
“Mau tena kiwai o te kete, maku tenei”, which when translated means;
“Each of us at a handle of the basket”.
The NZ Defence Cultural group of 30 servicemen and servicewomen were also in attendance
and dressed in the usual costumes didn’t flinch in the sub-zero temperatures. During their haka,
the local maori group, who included Derek (Sully) Sullivan, emerged from the crowd and did a
challenging haka to the Defence group. They in turn, shifted to face the locals.
This resulted in the two groups going hard out at each other. A rousing performance.
The hundreds of Australians in the crowd were absolutely spellbound. An impromptu yet
magnificent spectacle that had all Kiwis present, justifiably proud.
At the end of the ceremony Allan (Aussie) Young laid a V4 wreath at the NZ Memorial.
Geoff completed the ANZAC alliance by laying poppies on the Australian Memorial.
Next day was ANZAC day and we marched up this grand parade to a service at the War Memorial
attended by thousands.
Such was the turnout, we were about 50th in the order of march of 100 plus groups.
The day was completed by an invitation to the NZ High Commission for a Bar-b-cue and a few ales.
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