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24 September 2003

Hon Mark Burton

Minister of Defence visit to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu

Minister of Defence Mark Burton today presented the New Zealand General Service Medal (Solomon Islands) to officers of the Vanuatu Police Force. The medal is a New Zealand government initiative designed to recognise the contribution of police personnel in Vanuatu, Tonga, and Cook Islands who served as members of the International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT) in the Solomon Islands from October 2000 to June 2002.

Mark Burton praised Vanuatu’s participation in regional peace support operations.

“Vanuatu’s involvement in the IPMT, as well as their work in the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group, was important in terms of regional security. It demonstrated that Pacific countries, working together, can help a friend and neighbour in a time of need.”

The presentation followed a day on the ground in the Solomon Islands, where Mark Burton travelled by helicopter to Auki, a large village on the island of Malaita. He met there with Reuben Mori, the provincial Premiere, and New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Police personnel who are working on Malaita as part of the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI).

Mark Burton said that the visit was an excellent opportunity to see RAMSI’s progress first-hand.

“The first stages of this mission have gone very well, but there is certainly more work to be done.

“Our NZDF personnel continue to play a key role in supporting the police as they restore the rule of law in the Solomon Islands. In addition, the NZDF is facilitating civil and humanitarian assistance by providing helicopter transport, engineers for refurbishment of facilities, and medical staff who will work to re-establish community level medical support.

“New Zealand’s service men and women have an international reputation for excellence. Their outstanding work in RAMSI certainly reinforces the high level of honour and professionalism the NZDF is known for.”


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