Education Minister Hekia Parata leaves for Greece today to represent New Zealand at the 75th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Crete.
Some 7700 New Zealanders fought in the battle which began on 20 May 1941. Of those 671 died, 967 were wounded, 2180 were taken prisoner and two, Captain Charles Upham and Sergeant Alfred Hulme, won Victoria Crosses.
Ms Parata says she is particularly pleased to join The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and represent New Zealand at the commemorations because her uncle and grandfather as well as members of her extended family fought in the battle as members of the 28th Māori Battalion.
“The battle may not be as well known as some other World War II conflicts but it left an indelible stamp on many families. I grew up knowing people named for places in Crete.”
Ms Parata will attend a number of commemorations in Crete including a New Zealand Crete service and the official Greek service. She will also join the Governor-General for calls on senior members of the Greek government.
“The battle created a bond between our countries that continues to this day,” she says.