TAIPING, Aug 12 – The remains of seven New Zealand citizens who were interred at the Commonwealth War Graves at the Kamunting Camp will be taken to the Wardieburn Camp in Kuala Lumpur today and flown home on Aug 20.
The soldiers, who fought in World War Two, were Lance Corporal Teriwhero Percy, Private Robert Malcolm, Private Bruce Harvey, Private Toma Feesago, Private Brian James, Private Tu Terangi and Private George Whiteblock.
Present to witness the official repatriation ceremony of the remains between Malaysia and New Zealand were Second Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Datuk Mohd Nizam Jaafar, Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital forensic department head Dr Mohammad Shafie Othman and New Zealand Air Force representative Comander Trevor Leslie.
The exhumation of the remains were carried out from July 23 to Aug 12. The forensic analysis process and reconciliation were done at Taiping Hospital while the identification was conducted at Markas Staf Stesen here.
A total of 55 army officers, 40 personnel of government agencies and local universities, and 23 New Zealand officers took part.
The remains will be returned to the families in a ceremony to be held in Auckland, New Zealand. The operation, called Operation Te Auraki (The Return), reflects the government’s commitment to help the New Zealand government ensure the mission’s success.
The repatriation mission involves the remains of those who had died while serving in Malaysia and Vietnam between 1955 and 1971.
The official send-off ceremony, which would involve the remains of 27 soldiers from the Terendak Commonwealth Cemetery and the Cheras Commonwealth War Cemetery, would be held at Kompleks Bunga Raya, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
The mission was initiated following Malaysia’s success in assisting the British government in Operation Dakota in 2008, Operation Gangga with the United States (2015) and Operation Reunites with Australia (2016).
The execution of Operation Te Auraki will pave the way for professional cooperation between Malaysia and New Zealand, specifically in archaeology forensics. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd