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24 December 2007
Traditional Maori powhiri

Newly arrived soldiers from the New Zealand Army now in Timor Leste as part of the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) have formally received their Australian force commander - Brigadier John Hutcheson - with a traditional Maori powhiri at their headquarters in Dili.

The powhiri is a traditional Maori ceremony where strangers are welcomed onto someone’s land or village, in this case the New Zealand Army’s forward operating base in Dili called 'Kiwi Lines'.

The traditional ceremony starts with the village’s finest warrior going out to greet the most senior person coming to the village and offer a challenge to determine whether or not the visit is for peaceful or war like purposes.

After ceremonial speeches, the New Zealand soldiers performed a welcoming haka for the Australians, while the Australians in return performed a rousing rendition of Waltzing Matilda.

At the conclusion of the ceremony Brigadier Hutcheson and the New Zealanders performed the traditional hongi, the gentle pressing of noses and foreheads between new friends, to symbolise the unity that now exists between the Australians and the newly arrived New Zealand troops.

Both Brigadier Hutcheson and the commander of the New Zealand company, Major Chad Preece, spoke of the unique bond between the Australian and New Zealand defences forces born on the beaches of Gallipoli and the importance of that relationship in undertaking their joint mission to help the people in Timor Leste.

Operation ASTUTE is the Australian Government's response to a request from the Gover.