Minister honours Korean War veterans

  • Judith Collins
Veterans' Affairs

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Judith Collins today commemorated the 61st anniversary of the start of the Korean War at a wreath-laying ceremony in Wellington.

Ms Collins marked the anniversary with Korean War veterans, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Mr Kwang-il Noh, and Defence Force, Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand and Returned and Services’ Association representatives at the National War Memorial.

About 6,000 New Zealanders were involved in the Korean War. “Kayforce”, as New Zealand’s troops were known, developed a reputation as a fierce fighting force.

New Zealand naval frigates patrolled the coast escorting supply ships, and helped to protect South Korean islands. New Zealand ground troops served in roles such as artillery fire support, signals and transport.

“As part of the UN force, New Zealanders fought bravely in harsh conditions against the attacking North Korean troops,” Ms Collins said.

“A large number of our troops served with 16 Field Regiment, which has recently been presented with the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. This was awarded in recognition of their heroism and exceptionally meritorious service.”

The Korean War began on 25 June 1950 when the Republic of Korea was attacked by troops from North Korea. New Zealand was one of the first countries to respond to the UN request for assistance.

An armistice was signed by both sides in July 1953 which brought a tenuous ceasefire to the peninsula.

“Today we pay tribute to all veterans of this war. We honour the sacrifice of those who served, in particular the sacrifice of the 45 New Zealanders who gave their lives during the Korean War,” Ms Collins said.

“They fought to defend the principle that people should be able to live in freedom and peace, and their contribution on behalf of our nation enabled South Korea to become the successful nation it is today.”