A wartime hero, credited for winning the Battle of Britain, will be permanently honoured in his hometown of Thames.
A bronze statue of Kiwi legend Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Rodney Park will be unveiled in the Coromandel town today with a full military ceremony.
Defence Minister Ron Mark, an Air Force Honour Guard and members of Park's family will attend and 20 vintage military aircraft will pass overhead in respect of the local man who after WWII was said to have "saved the world."
Park was a decorated First World War fighter pilot who rose through the ranks carving out a prestigious career in the Royal Air Force.
He served in both the First and Second World Wars in the New Zealand Army, British Army and the Royal Air Force from 1911 to 1946.
Park commanded RAF squadrons that defended London and the South East from Luftwaffe attacks in 1940.
His role in the Battle of Britain was so pivotal that in February 1947 the head of the Royal Air Force Lord Tedder said of Park: "If ever any one man won the Battle of Britain, he did. I don't believe it is realized how much that one man, with his leadership, his calm judgment and his skill, did to save not only this country but the world'.
When he retired from the Royal Air Force and returned to New Zealand, Park made a lasting impact on home soil.
He was instrumental in the construction of Auckland Airport in the 1950s and as the chairman of the Auckland International Airport Committee persuaded a reluctant government to purchase a site at Mangere.
He served three terms (1962–71) as an Auckland city councillor and was active in the New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, the New Zealand Epilepsy Association, and the King George V Children's Health Camp, Pakuranga.
Park died in Auckland on 6 February 1975 and received a military funeral at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Parnell.
The bronze statue of Park was created by Lyttelton artist Mark Whyte and cast in bronze by Jonathan Campbell. It was funded by a $200,000 bequest from Thames woman Betty Hare.
Betty Hare passed away in September 2017 and in her will left $200,000 for the bronze statue of Sir Keith to be created.
Her niece, Wendy Hare said her aunt felt Sir Keith deserved greater recognition in his homeland.
"She felt strongly there were many New Zealanders who have done great things on the world scale but aren't well recognised in their home country," she said.
The Thames memorial is the second bronze statue of Sir Keith Park - the first was unveiled in 2010 in Waterloo Place in Haymarket on the 70th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day.
Today's unveiling starts at 11am outside the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre, 200 Mary St, Thames.