A ceremony at former Marines camp in Paekakariki has kicked off commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the arrival of US World War II forces.
More than 15,000 US troops were stationed at camps on the Kapiti Coast during World World II.
Governor General Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae told the crowd gathered for the Memorial Day service that the Marines’ “friendly invasion” came during a dark time in the War, and had a significant social, cultural and economic impact.
Ten US sailors drowned during a training exercise on 20 June, 1943, and a memorial to them was unveiled during the service.
In June, 50 US Marines and a 50-person Marine band will spend three weeks in New Zealand participating in commemorative events. These include a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial and a reception at Parliament hosted by Prime Minister John Key.
Mr Key says the commemorations are “a reminder that New Zealand and the United States have a longstanding and strong history of mutual aid and support, built on shared values.Together we will be remembering and honouring the sacrifices made during the Second World War".
The band will travel around New Zealand, and 50 Marines will participate in a field training exercise in Waiouru and the South Island with New Zealand Defence Force personnel.