Sat 18 May 2002
PM proud of NZ’s contribution to East Timor’s independence
Prime Minister Helen Clark says New Zealand can be very proud of its contribution towards East Timor’s transition to
Helen Clark leads a New Zealand delegation leaving today for East Timor’s independence celebrations starting tomorrow
night, with the handover to the new government taking place at midnight Sunday.
The delegation includes Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Associate Foreign Minister Matt Robson, Linda and Charlie
Manning, the parents of slain New Zealand soldier Private Leonard Manning; the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce
Ferguson; and representatives of government agencies and non-governmental organisations involved in East Timor.
Helen Clark said East Timor and New Zealand have developed a warm and close friendship since September 1999.
“The relationship between our two countries is underpinned by our strong support for the development of an independent
and stable East Timor.
“We have supported the transition to East Timorese independence through peace-keeping, development assistance and
diplomatic efforts. For a small country, we can be very proud of the contribution we have made.
“I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the NZ Defence Forces which has worked tremendously hard to bring peace to
“New Zealand was involved from the start in September 1999, as part of the initial deployment of the United
Nations-sanctioned intervention force to restore peace. Our military contribution continued when the intervention force
gave way to UN peace-keepers.
“There has been a high human cost. Four members of the army have died while serving in East Timor. Our thoughts are with
the families and friends of Private Leonard Manning, Warrant Officer Tony Walser, Staff Sergeant Bill White, and Private
“By November of this year, about 5500 NZDF personnel – over half the uniformed strength of the NZDF – will have served
in East Timor.
“During the period between 1999 and 2001, up to thirty New Zealand police, corrections and customs officers were
deployed to East Timor at any one time to help run essential services and train their East Timorese counterparts.
“In terms of the ongoing relationship following independence, last year we agreed to an aid programme of $10 million to
be delivered over the next four years. This will focus on basic education, community development, natural resource
development, and training East Timorese in the practices of government.
“In addition, New Zealand non-governmental organisations have also played important roles in supporting and assisting
the East Timorese.
“While New Zealand’s contribution has been significant, the struggle of the East Timorese has been long, and at times
bloody, as they sought to exercise their right to self-determination. At this landmark point in East Timor’s history, we
must pay tribute to those who died and suffered on the road to independence.”
On Monday, Helen Clark will visit the New Zealand forces stationed at Suai as part of the United Nations peace-keeping
forces in East Timor.
The party returns to New Zealand on Tuesday.