Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Plan to honour Kiwi soldier

Kiwis pay their respects for Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone.
Kiwis pay their respects for Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae has agreed to hold a ceremony at Government House in Wellington to honour Kiwi soldier Rory Malone who died in Afghanistan in 2012.

A spokeswoman said the vice-regal office had been working on the arrangements for "a few weeks" before Lance Corporal Malone's family launched a petition on June 9 to obtain a special ceremony.

Two of his colleagues in the Battle of Baghak, in which Lance Corporal Malone died, were honoured at a ceremony in April.

But the family says on the Go Petition website: "But wait - What about our Rory? Our hero. No notice to the family? No notice to his comrades? What - a request to send it in the MAIL?"

The petition, signed by 285 people so far, requests "a medal ceremony in NZ's capital [to] allow his actions to be respectfully honoured by all those who wish to attend".

The Governor-General's public affairs manager Nerina Bennett said Lance Corporal Malone's NZ Gallantry Medal, announced last December, "is not being mailed out".

"Government House is working to arrange an appropriate ceremony with the primary next-of-kin, who is named as Kate Johnston," she said.

Former Lance Corporal Kate Johnston was Lance Corporal Malone's partner.

"We are going to have the ceremony at Government House in Wellington. The organisation has been under way for a few weeks. We are just finalising those arrangements."

Lance Corporal Malone saved the life of his commanding officer, Major Craig Wilson, before being killed in the Battle of Baghak in August 2012. Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer, 26, also was killed.

He was a great-great-grandson of Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, a World War I battalion commander who died at Gallipoli in 1915.

Rory Malone. Photo / NZDF
Rory Malone. Photo / NZDF

Lance Corporal Malone's half-brother Todd McBriar said their mother Helen Thomasen, who now lives in Wales with her two youngest children, was ready to come back to New Zealand as soon as a ceremony was confirmed.

He said Ms Johnston, a chef who has now left the army and is living in Melbourne, visited New Zealand in March to discuss arrangements for awarding the medal. He said she planned to give it to the army museum at Waiouru.

"She was going to give it to the museum and we were going to have a ceremony at Waiouru," he said.

He said the long delay and uncertainty over honouring his brother had taken a toll on his mother since she came back to New Zealand initially for Lance Corporal Malone's state funeral in August 2012.

"She was very, very sick, having strokes," he said. "[NZDF] cut my mother off for six months while she was living in the basement of my brother's house waiting for a response. They offered counselling. That never came through."

He said Mrs Thomasen was upset again when the NZDF liaison officer in Britain forwarded an email to her which included "disrespectful" internal emails within the Defence Force.

"That's the sort of thing they have done all the way through, it's just disrespect," he said.

He believed the agreement to hold a ceremony in Wellington "would never have happened if I didn't put a petition out".

The Malone petition can be found at www.gopetition.com/petitions

- NZ Herald

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