Sunvoice

Editorial: Fiji-NZ relations Continues to strengthen

Tomorrow a commemorative monument will be unveiled at the University of the South Pacific (USP), Laucala in Suva. The unveiling is to recognise the service of veterans from the No.
22 Mar 2018 11:46
Editorial: Fiji-NZ relations Continues to strengthen
Laucala_Bay_Hangar: RNZAF ground crew work on a Singapore flying boat in the Laucala Bay hangar.

Tomorrow a commemorative monument will be unveiled at the University of the South Pacific (USP), Laucala in Suva.

The unveiling is to recognise the service of veterans from the No. 5 Squadron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF’s) Laucala Bay station of flying boats, from 1940 to 1967.

USP Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra said – “This commemorative monument to the No.5 Squadron of the RNZAF recognises the contribution provided by the New Zealand Government and Fiji over the past 50 years to USP. Not only have we benefited from the legacy of the infrastructure left behind by the RNZAF, but the New Zealand Government has continued to support USP throughout our history.”

The air base land and infrastructure became home to the USP which opened its doors in 1968.

The campus has produced leaders and professionals in various fields throughout the Pacific region and they have contributed immensely to the development and economic growth of their countries.

The monument, designed and crafted in Fiji by Shane Bower, will be unveiled by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and New Zealand (NZ) Defence Minister Ron Mark at the USP campus, on the land formerly home to the RNZAF No. 5 SQN.

A release from the RNZAF said that Vice Chief of Defence Force, Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, who was a RNZAF No.5 SQN navigator and captain in his early career said – “The RNZAF is delighted the service of Laucala Bay veterans is being acknowledged with a monument. The flying boat operations were a significant contribution to our national security.”

The Laucala Bay station forged a longstanding relationship between NZ and Fiji, and the NZDF remains committed to contributing to regional security and stability in the South West Pacific.

RNZAF No. 5 SQN of P-3K2 Orions today, continues to contribute vital surveillance support in the South West Pacific, conducting maritime patrols, search and rescue and reconnaissance operations.

At its height Laucala Bay Station was home to 600 deployed RNZAF personnel and it was also a large employer of Fijian locals in a variety of roles.

At the unveiling ceremony 30 former No.5 SQN members will be happy to see their former base has now turned into a successful tertiary learning institution.

Laucala Bay veterans, a contingent of RNZAF personnel, including current members of RNZAF 5 SQN, band and Maori culture group are arriving today to attend the commemorations that are part of the University of the South Pacific’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

They are coming on board a RNZAF Boeing 757 together with the Minister of Defence.

A RNZAF Hercules will shuttle the contingent across to Nausori.

The public is invited to witness this historical event and also to show support for the continuing harmonious relationship between Fiji and New Zealand.

The event reinforces that relationship and reminds us that the long lasting relationship will continue to bind us together during war and peace.

Maika Bolatiki

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj

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