Defence Minister attends Park statue unveiling

  • Wayne Mapp

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp will represent New Zealand in London on Wednesday at the unveiling of a statue of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park, the New Zealander who led the Royal Air Force to victory in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

"The unveiling will be a proud moment for New Zealand," Dr Mapp said.

"The statue commemorates Sir Keith's personal courage and leadership, and gives full recognition to his achievements and those of the men and women who fought with him.

"It is also an important reminder of the depth and closeness of the defence and security relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom - a relationship that stretches back beyond two world wars, and continues to the present day," he said.

Prime Minister John Key was to attend the Waterloo Place ceremony  but cancelled the trip because of the Canterbury earthquake.

While in London Dr Mapp will also speak at a fundraising event for the Canterbury earthquake appeal at New Zealand House and meet General Sir David Richards, the incoming United Kingdom Chief of Defence Staff.

The Minister will return to New Zealand early on Sunday morning. He will deliver the keynote speech and lay a wreath at the Royal New Zealand Air Force Association Battle of Britain commemoration at the Auckland War Memorial Museum at 11am that day.