Queen, Blair, Clark at opening of NZ memorial

By Andy Macdonald

The New Zealand Memorial in London was officially opened today in a lengthy ceremony.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and British Prime Minister Tony Blair turned out for the Hyde Park Corner event.

The memorial - some six years in the pipeline - consists of 16 bronze stands with strong New Zealand motifs displayed on them.

The memorial represents the past, present and future links between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

It has a war memorial theme.

Prime Minister Clark spoke at the ceremony, which saw the memorial dedicated by the Queen.

"It's genesis lay in the desire to commemorate the shared sacrifice of New Zealanders in times of war, alongside the people of Britain," Helen Clark said in speechnotes.

New Zealand's relationship with Britain dated back to the 18th century, and Captain James Cook's exploration of New Zealand, she said.

More than 2000 guests turned out on the clear autumn day, plus 32 New Zealand veterans and some 300 New Zealand defence force personnel.

Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association president John Campbell said the memorial service was emotional but also marvellous.

"We know the memorial will provide a wonderful focal point for New Zealanders living in and visiting the United Kingdom," Mr Campbell said in speechnotes.

He described the day as one to be proud of for New Zealand.

Meanwhile, New Zealand defence force personnel made up a 120-strong royal honour guard, and performed other ceremonial duties at the Hyde Park Corner site.

Musicians Dave Dobbyn and Hayley Westenra also performed.

Earlier in the morning, swarms of police scoured the area ahead of the Queen's appearance.

Security was of the highest order.

- NZPA

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