News from NZ Government
The French Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Kader Arif will be in Wellington tomorrow as part of an official visit about the First World War centenary programme, which will mark a major part of French-New Zealand relations from 2014 to 2018.
In Auckland today, the French Minister will meet his New Zealand counterpart, Minister Chris Finlayson, lead minister for New Zealand’s First World War centenary programme. They will continue discussions initiated in Paris last October when M. Finlayson attended the international seminar for the First World War centenary.
M Arif will come to Wellington tomorrow to place a wreath at the National War Memorial in remembrance of the New Zealand soldiers who fell on the Western front during the First World War. He is also invited to discover the First World War collections digitalization project at the National Library and will visit Wellington College where he will meet students involved in the project Shared Memories. In the evening, the Minister will host a function on the French frigate ‘Prairial’.
Minister Arif’s visit to New Zealand follows the launch of the commemoration in France involving a delegation of All Blacks who participated in the rekindling of the flame ceremony underneath the Arc de Triomphe.
On this occasion, Minister Arif paid homage to the New Zealand soldiers: « France owes its history to this engagement too” expressed the Minister, referring to the 128,000 New Zealand soldiers who came to fight on the French side. He also paid tribute to the 12,500 New Zealand soldiers who fell on the Western Front; a reminder that New Zealand also paid a heavy price during this war.