Anyeong hashimnigga, iarobun Aucklandé oshin kozui. Hanyeong hamnida
I wish to acknowledge Mr. Young-geol Kim, Consul-General of the Republic of Korea in Auckland; Captain Dean McDougall, Captain Fleet Operational Support RNZN; Mr. Jim Newman, National President of the New Zealand Korea Veterans’ Association; Mr. Hee-jung Yang, President of the Korean Society in Auckland; Commander Lee, Byeong-kweon Rear Admiral of the Republic of Korea
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
First of all I want to thank Consul-General Kim for giving me the honour to participate in this so very important ceremony.
It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the Auckland Regional Council and the people of the Auckland region, to extend a very warm welcome to Admiral Lee, captains, officers and ratings of the warship ROK YANGMANCHOON and the supply vessel ROK HWACHEON.
Many countries were drawn into that tragic conflict including New Zealand. It is to the great credit of the government of the Republic of Korea that its ongoing gratitude to the New Zealand veterans (army and navy) has been so generous and so steadfast.
The Korean War was once called in America the ‘Forgotten War’ – but I can recommend a new book about the conflict by the great American journalist and war correspondent David Halberstam called ‘the Coldest Winter’. Everyone interested in the post war history of East Asia should read it. We of course can never forget this war – as its consequences are still with us today.
Though an armistice between the powers was signed in 1953, the war has never officially ended – and therefore peace has never been agreed on or declared. Despite this, New Zealand now has close and friendly relations with all the nations that were drawn into that tragic conflict – all except one – but even then NZ does maintain limited relations.
It is our hope and prayer that the latest political crisis on the Korean peninsula may be the darkest hour which comes before the dawn. That peace and reconciliation – and indeed peaceful unification – between the two Koreas may yet be possible and come in our time. In the meantime we admire the restraint of the government of the Republic of Korea in the face of the present very difficult circumstances. The consequences for further war are unthinkable. It is in everyone’s interest that we have peace, stability and harmony in East Asia and the north east Pacific. The name Pacific means ‘peaceful’. Long may the Pacific Ocean live up to that name.
In terms of our ongoing friendship with the Republic of Korea – the Auckland region is now home to some 25,000 people of Korean descent – about 70% of the total population of some 33,000 Koreans permanently resident in this country. Koreans are hard-working, law-abiding, high achievers in our society, our economy and our educational institutes and even in the world of sport – they are most valued members of the Auckland regional community. Two famous New Zealand Koreans (and they both have the same family name as me – perhaps they are related?) are Danny Lee the youngest winner of the American Amateur Gulf Championship and Melissa Lee MP, the first Korean to be a member of the New Zealand parliament.
The Republic of Korea is also a valued trading partner of New Zealand – our sixth largest trading after Australia, Peoples Republic of China, USA, Japan, and the United Kingdom. We know that the Republic of Korea has achieved an economic miracle – that it excels in high technology and heavy industry.
So once again welcome to Auckland – welcome to Queens Wharf which the Auckland Regional Council and the New Zealand government purchased as a harbourside openspace for the people of Auckland and for our most welcome visitors who voyage to New Zealand from across the Pacific Ocean – just like Admiral Lee and the the captains, officers and ratings of the Yangmanchoon and Hwacheon.