On Wednesday, veterans of the Korean War from all over New Zealand, will assemble at the Cenotaph in the Auckland War Museum Domain.

Many of them will have sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters with them.

Some will be there in remembrance of their loved ones; fallen husbands, brothers, fathers and uncles, who fought to keep the people of Korea free.

I, too, will be there, to honour my "dads" one last time as NZKVA.


On June 29, 1950, just four days after North Korea invaded the South, New Zealand answered a call made to the international community to support South Korea.

Two Frigates (Tutira and Pukaki) left for Korean waters in July and followed by more than 1000 military volunteers, soldiers and sailors, the K-Force, that would be our contingent in the fight ahead.

It is believed around 5000 New Zealanders served from 1950-1957 in the New Zealand Army and the Royal New Zealand Navy fighting for the independence of the South and then maintaining that independence after the Ceasefire with an Armistice Agreement which was signed on the July 27, 1953.

These men returning home, naturally joined their comrades in arms at the local RSAs but what they also did was establish their own organisation, the New Zealand Korean Veterans Association, the NZKVA.

They met in towns and cities around New Zealand, much in the same way many other veterans movements did, with two or three annual events that especially commemorated the 33 lives lost during the war.

They commemorated individuals such as Able Seaman Robert Marchioni, who never returned either to New Zealand or to the UN Cemetery in Busan.

His grave there remains empty, he being the only New Zealand sailor whose body was never repatriated by North Korea.

Although March 8 marks a closing chapter with the national organisation devolving to local community groups, it is important to remember that many of these veterans, almost all now being in their late 80s and 90s, valiantly gave service to New Zealand and acted selflessly to save a people they never knew.


The people of Korea cherish our veterans for that reason, they honour them for saving their freedom and it is an honour that I, as the recipient of that freedom, also cherish.

I look forward to joining the Auckland Korean Veterans again as I do every year for the Ceasefire Parade on July 27 and I look forward to the Annual Hamilton KVA Christmas barbecue and singing Arirang and Pokarekare Ana which was taught by these men to Korean children during the war.

These men are my heroes. My "dads" and they have my gratitude forever.