The Minister of Defense pays tribute to the New Zealand soldiers who contributed to the independence of Malaysia.
SEPANG: The operation of Te Auraki to return the skeleton remains of the fallen New Zealand soldiers who have ended today is a milestone in the defense ties between Malaysia and New Zealand, said Defense Minister Mohamad Sabu.
Speaking on the official transfer of the remains of 26 soldiers and one dependent on the Bunga Raya Complex of the KL International Airport here, Mohamad Te Auraki said a high-quality operation for Malaysia. Te Auraki means "The return" in Maori.
"Malaysia honors New Zealand for its contribution to Malaysia's independence," said Mohamad, better known as Mat Sabu.
At the ceremony, Mohamad witnessed the signing of the official transfer documents of the 27 relics between the Malaysian Armed Forces Gen Zulkifli Zainal Abidin and the New Zealand Army Officer Maj. Peter Kelly.
The 27 remains include those of 26 soldiers and one relative who died in Malaysia between 1955 and 1971.
Kelly, in his speech, praised Malaysia for taking care of the 27 New Zealanders buried in three Commonwealth war graves, in Terendak Camp, Melaka; Taiping, Perak; and Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
"This operation of Te Auraki would not have happened without the overwhelming support of Malaysia Terima Kasih (thanks)," he said.
Kelly said there were other Malaysian soldiers' graves in Malaysia and their respective families had agreed with their stay in this country.