The Sir Keith Park statue was unveiled 27 April 2019, and now provides a gathering place for people from all around New Zealand to come and honour this important man - who was born and started school in Thames.
The vital role that Sir Keith played in the winning of the Battle of Britain was stressed by RNZAF Wing Commander Rachel James, who was one of the speakers during the ceremony. While the Battle of Britain's timeline stretched from 10 July 1940 to 31 October 1940, the 15th September is the official day that the 'Battle of Britain' is commemorated in the United Kingdom. Wreaths were laid by a Park family representative, the King's School & King's College Old Boys, RNZAF, & RSA. Park had been a pupil at King's College.
The Last Post was played and the Ode read. Plus a flyover and some tricks performed by a member of the local aero club.
E kore rātou e kaumātuatia
Pēnei i a tātou kua mahue nei
E kore hoki rātou e ngoikore
Ahakoa pehea i ngā āhuatanga o te wā
I te hekenga atu o te rā
Tae noa ki te aranga mai i te ata
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them
We will remember them.
In the closing remarks it was mentioned that planning for the 80th Battle of Britain Commemorations at Thames are already underway. A book on Sir Keith Park's life was also recommended: Park: The Biography of Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park, GCB, KBE, MC, DFC, DCL.
Photographs from the Sir Keith Park / 79th Battle of Britain Commemorations,
at Thames 15 Sept 2019.
Thames War Memorial Civic Centre - people gathered for the commemorations,
the Sir Keith Park statue taking pride of place on the red carpet.
The ceremony started and Wing Commander Rachel James addressed those gathered.
(Above right & below)
Mayor Sandra Goudie spoke, and a lone plane flew overhead.
Wreaths were laid, the bugler played the Last Post
and the RNZAF representative read the Ode of Remembrance.
The ceremony ended, with Sir Keith Park (statue) standing proudly and modestly,
while photographs were taken.
Closing: The Kings College Old Boys went off for a formal function, while the Thames RSA welcomed those gathered to join them back at the club rooms at the Thames Workingmen's Club.