Icy weather and corned beef are two of the things that Morgan Lewis remembers most from his time serving in the Korean war.

Mr Lewis was a member of the Whanganui group who met visiting diplomat Kim Hong Gon and New Zealand's only South Korean MP, Melissa Lee, on Saturday.

The visitors were here to share lunch with local veterans at Wanganui RSA before visiting the Korean War memorial at Queenspark.

Mr Lewis and his wife Beryl joined other veterans, members of the Korean Society of Wanganui, Mayor Hamish McDouall and political candidates Steph Lewis and Harete Hipango in welcoming the visitors.


"The war was just nine days old when I sailed off in June 1950," said Mr Lewis who joined the NZ Navy as a 15-year-old in 1946.

"We sailed from Auckland on a ship named Tutira and I remember that we were very short on rations.

"We ate nothing but tinned corned beef for about two months and we ate it fried, boiled and cooked every way possible."

He remembers scraping the ice off the deck and the thick soled boots he wore to stop his feet from freezing.

"There were floating mines around the coastline and we had to keep constant watch.

"We worked shifts of four hours on and four off but we didn't sleep much during our time off."

Mr Lewis' name is one of almost 100 included on the memorial plaque which was unveiled at Queenspark in 2015.

The men from Whanganui and surrounding districts volunteered to serve in the war which lasted until July 1953.


The local men were among 6000 New Zealanders who served and 45 lost their lives.

New Zealand established diplomatic relations with Korea in 1962 and the New Zealand embassy opened in Seoul in 1971.

The Korean Society of Wanganui worked with veterans to establish the monument which is the only Korean War memorial in New Zealand.