French Associate Minister for Defence, in charge of Veterans’ Affairs, Monsieur Kader Arif and New Zealand Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson have signed a letter of intent regarding centenary commemorations of the First World War at the Auckland War Memorial Museum today.
The Ministers met in Auckland and reaffirmed the deep friendship between the two nations stemming from shared experiences on the battlefields of the First World War.
“Our shared sacrifices sealed an enduring friendship,” Mr Finlayson said. “Successive French and New Zealand governments have worked together mindful of the need to continuously construct peace and security in the world.
Minister Arif welcomed New Zealand’s participation in major commemorations being organised in France, especially those involving battles in which New Zealanders took part. These include a commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, to be held in September 2016, and the New Zealand Division’s participation in battles across northern France, culminating in the liberation of Le Quesnoy in November 2018.
France annually welcomes many New Zealand visitors to the Somme battlefield region, where they remember those who gave their lives for freedom, and is pleased to provide access to historical sites, including military cemeteries.
The Ministers affirmed their governments’ desire to continue building on their commitment to peace and understanding, that is a legacy of war. They are keen to encourage further exchanges between schools in their two countries, and to enhance educational links through social media. They also wish to encourage exchanges and cooperation among museums, national archives, universities, media and cultural organisations.