Hon. Ron Mark, New Zealand First Spokesperson for Defence
New Zealand First Spokesperson for Defence Ron Mark, welcomes the official opening of Te Rau Aroha, a new museum at Waitangi Treaty Grounds as part of our Coalition Agreement.
“It is a great honour to be part of an effective Government and deliver on our New Zealand First commitment on a day when a museum of such significance to Maori and the Defence Force has been opened,” Ron Mark said.
The museum is funded by the Provincial Growth Fund and was built by the Waitangi National Trust. “It is a privilege to attend this special place for all New Zealanders, to be part of ‘Te Rau Aroha, the Gift of Love’, honouring the service of tangata whenua in our Armed Forces.”
The kaupapa of the museum includes reference to the Pioneer Battalion of WW1, the Maori Battalion and the overall contribution of Maori to the NZ Armed Forces throughout New Zealand’s history. Following WW2, with the agreement of veterans, it was agreed that there would be no further Maori units.
Since this time, Maori participation in the armed forces has steadily increased, leading to a growing Maori cultural influence in the military.
“There are many well-known warriors and warrior leaders who are part of that story. There are names we all know. But today we salute and honour every Maori service person who is part of that story,” Ron Mark said.
Mr Mark and the New Zealand Defence Force will be hosting the evening ceremony following the event, in which the history of Tangata whenua in the armed forces will be further commemorated.