Adm. Harry Harris
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
U.S. Memorial at Pukeahu Mauri Stone Ceremony
Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, New Zealand
March 5, 2018
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Kaumatua, for that beautiful karakia we just witnessed – a powerful reminder of the shared Polynesian heritage that linked our two nations far before the losses commemorated here at this very special place.
Before getting started, I’d also like to acknowledge Minister of Defense Mark, Chief of Defense Forces Lieutenant General Keating, Ambassador Brown, Mr. James, Rear Admiral Ledson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Today, as we gather on this hallowed ground, I stand at a place seemingly designed for witness and testimony, for talking story of heroes past and present, to remember them and what they did to advance the banner of freedom throughout our world.
It’s truly a privilege for me to be here today – as a sailor, as an American, and as a veteran – to share this wonderful moment with friends, as we unveil the final design of the U.S. Memorial here at Pukeahu.
My own history with this great nation goes back more than 40 years when I came here on an exchange tour with the New Zealand Navy while studying at Annapolis.
It’s no exaggeration from me to say that the Royal New Zealand Navy helped shape the Naval Officer I became. I have many fond memories – and some I’d like to forget – of my time aboard HMNZS Hawea, and I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to speak to you all today.
In war and during uneasy peace, the armed forces of our two nations have reinforced our steadfast partnership to deliver peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
This enduring partnership was forged in battle and based on mutual trust and shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
Today, as close partners and friends, our relationship continues to blossom as we work together in everything from scientific research in Antarctica to peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts around the world.
And when disaster strikes, we can count on each other in our time of need. When the devastating Kaikoura earthquake shook New Zealand in 2016, the U.S.S. Sampson led recovery efforts with immediate assistance, relief, and supplies.
Months later, after a tragic accident that disabled the U.S.S. Fitzgerald, HMNZS Te Kaha joined the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in a bilateral transit through the Western Pacific, honoring the ship’s motto of ‘He Ponanga Kaha’ – Service with Strength.
In every relationship, in addition to celebrating our shared values and history, we also celebrate what makes us unique.
Today’s Kiwi ceremony to prepare the ground for a U.S. Memorial on New Zealand soil is a testament to the strong bonds that honor our past, define our present, and bless our future.
May God bless our two great nations, and may God bless each of you. Te Taua Moana! Thank you.