Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Timor PM to honour slain NZ soldier

The mother of a Kiwi soldier killed in East Timor will share a moment of commemoration at the National War Memorial today with Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Private Leonard Manning, 24, was shot and mutilated by pro-Indonesia militia on July 24, 2000. His mother, Linda, has travelled from Waikato to be with Mr Gusmao for the wreath-laying ceremony.
Private Manning was one of thousands of peacekeepers sent to East Timor to quell bloodshed in the wake of a referendum that voted for independence from Indonesia.
He was the first New Zealand soldier to die in combat since the Vietnam War.
Mrs Manning, 56, who has visited East Timor several times and raised funds for the East Timor School Trust, has repeatedly spoken proudly of her son.
"Leonard was very happy to be a soldier and very happy to be doing something worthwhile," she said after his death.
"The goal of peace in East Timor was very important to him and it is very important to us."
Mr Gusmao held talks with Prime Minister Helen Clark after a welcome at Parliament yesterday. New Zealand continues to provide military and police support to East Timor.
It has also given about $30 million in aid. (


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