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NZDF Personnel Commemorate Sinking Of HMNZS Moa In Solomon Islands


New Zealanders have gathered for a moment of reflection
in Solomon Islands to commemorate the Second World War
sinking of HMNZS Moa in Tulagi Harbour.

Personnel from three New
Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) missions and staff from the New
Zealand embassy in Honiara were among those who paid their
respects at Henderson Field memorial gardens.

HMNZS
Moa was one of three Royal New Zealand Navy Bird-class
Minesweepers that served in the 25th minesweeping flotilla
patrolling off the coast of Guadalcanal during the Second
World War.

In January 1943, HMNZS Moa and HMNZS Kiwi
joined forces to ram and wreck a Japanese I-1 submarine in
Kamimbo Bay.

Just over two months later, on 7 April,
HMNZS Moa was refuelling from USS Erskine in Tulagi Harbour
when it received two direct hits from a Japanese dive bomber
and sank bow first in under four minutes. Five ratings from
Moa were killed in the explosions and seven were seriously
injured.

This week’s service was attended by NZDF
members of the Solomon Islands Assistance Force, which
supports the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to maintain
peace and stability through community engagement and
reassurance.

Also in attendance were crew from HMNZS
Canterbury and Colonel Anthony Childs, the commander of a
200-strong Joint Task Force providing support for the
upcoming Solomon Islands elections.

The commemoration
was led by the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Squadron
Leader Ash Wilson who is based in Honiara with the Forum
Fisheries Agency, which helps Pacific countries sustainably
manage fisheries resources within their 200 mile Exclusive
Economic Zone.

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“New Zealand has a long history with
Solomon Islands. This year marks the 81st commemoration of
the sinking of HMNZS Moa,” said Squadron Leader
Wilson.

“We respect and honour our past, our
veterans and their service. This afternoon’s small
commemoration of remembrance is one of the ways that we
honour their legacy.”

Commanding Officer of HMNZS
Canterbury, Commander Bronwyn Heslop laid a wreath on behalf
of the women and men serving in the New Zealand Defence
Force, followed by New Zealand High Commissioner to the
Solomon Islands Jonathan Schwass, who represented the New
Zealand Government.

She had a personal connection to a
namesake of the sunken vessel.

“Participating in
this memorial was special to me, because my first command as
a young Lieutenant was HMNZS Moa, an Inshore Patrol Craft
which was based out of Dunedin,” said Commander
Heslop.

A contingent of NZDF personnel on board HMNZS
Canterbury have arrived in Solomon Islands to provide
logistical support to the upcoming national general
election.

Two Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90
helicopters are on board. They will assist the Solomon
Islands Electoral Commission with transportation of polling
boxes and election officials to various remote
locations.

Solomon Islands is geographically
dispersed, which means it can be logistically challenging to
ensure everyone has a chance to vote in the 17 April
ballot.

 

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