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Re-living the arrival of US Marines in New Zealand

MEDIA RELEASE: 23 January 2012

Excitement is mounting ahead of the 70th Anniversary celebrations to commemorate the ‘friendly invasion’ and ‘occupation’ of New Zealand by American Armed Forces from 1942 to 1944.

Launching Salute 70, a unique 1940’s themed festival to commemorate the Anniversary. Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan says there’s overwhelming support for the celebrations which pay tribute to American servicemen and women who were stationed, trained or convalesced in New Zealand during World War II. Ms Rowan said it was also an opportunity to acknowledge the many thousands of sailors or ships crews who manned the 200 or more naval and support vessels which came here during the war.

“Given the passing of time this is our last big opportunity to host Marines and other U.S. Armed forces, who camped on our land, were adopted by our families, dated our grandmothers, and defended our country while “our men” were fighting in the Middle East.

“It’s a great time for people to find their old photos, their address books, and war-time treasures and be part of a very special anniversary,” she says.
Organised by the Kapiti US Marines Trust in cooperation with the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) and a range of other heritage, environment and tourism groups, Salute 70 aims to engage Kiwis and American citizens with connections to this important period of history.

Ms Rowan says the main focus of the Salute 70 festival is the Wellington Region, particularly in Camps Paekakariki, Russell and Mackay where over 15,000 U.S. military personnel were stationed. (Nearly 8,000 Marines were also stationed in Titahi Bay, Porirua, Plimmerton, Judgeford and Pauatahanui.)

Salute 70 will open in Paekakariki on Sunday, 27 May, with a piano recital by Jan Preston and Mary Gow at 2.30pm in the Memorial Hall, Paekakariki. This will lead into a major Memorial Day (the U.S. equivalent of Anzac Day) event in Queen Elizabeth Park (the former Camp Russell) on Monday, May 28.

The Memorial Day event will feature the New Zealand Air force Band and leading New Zealand baritone Zane Te Wiremu Jarvis. It will be attended by Governor General Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, tangata whenua, national and local politicians, members of the New Zealand and U.S. armed services, the RSA, visiting U.S.Marines and their families, community and youth groups.

As part of the event, a new memorial to ten US sailors who died off Paekakariki beach in June, 1943, during landing exercises, will be unveiled and new Memorial Grove of Trees to honour the lives of men killed in the Pacific war will be planted.

Salute 70 will run until June 14 (the official anniversary of the Marines landing in Wellington), when a number of Anniversary events and a concert will be held at the Wellington Town Hall.

The U.S. Embassy is expected to bring the U.S.Marines Forces Pacific Band back to New Zealand for the celebrations. The popular band, which was a “star turn” during the Rugby World Cup, will tour a number of major centres, starting with a concert in Kapiti on June 10.

Salute 70 will also features special tours of Marine camp sites in Kapiti and other parts of the Wellington Region, a memorial dinner, a history lecture series, community story-telling sessions and 1940’s themed movie evenings.

For further information contact Allie Webber on

Re-living the arrival of US Marines in New Zealand

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