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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:38am

Dignitaries RNZRSA president BJ Clark, Selwyn MP Amy Adams, Minister for Veterans Ron Mark, Selwyn Deputy Mayor Malcolm Lyall and RSA Canterbury District President Stan Hansen stand in a line with heads bowed looking at one of the newly unveiled plaques

More than 100 family, dignitaries and members of the New Zealand Defence Force turned out to unveil and dedicate new RSA plaques at Springston cemetery.

The 46 new plaques replaced those stolen in April.The new plaques were unveiled by family members, many of whom had travelled from outside of Selwyn to attend the rededication. Members of the memorial guard from Burnham Military Camp unveiled plaques were family members were not present.

Minister for Veterans the Honourable Ron Mark, MP for Selwyn Amy Adams, Selwyn Deputy Mayor Malcolm Lyall, RNZRSA national president BJ Clark, Head of Veterans' Affairs Bernadine Mackenzie and were among the dignitaries there to mark the service, which was led by Canterbury District RSA President Stan Hansen.A grey haired man in a blue suit stands next to an elderly man in a suit wearing a poppy and a row of medals

Mr Mark said the plaques were a mark of respect for the sacrifice of those who served their country both in war and afterwards despite the suffering they endured. The cemetery was a place of peace and a connection for their families and a reminder for all of that service, but that peace had been violated by the thefts, he said.

"Now we can ask that peace be restored to the families and those who lie here as their last resting place. As families we can feel calm again, as citizens of the nation we can visit here, read the names and give thanks for their service."

Following the Last Post, Springs RSA President Ivan Norton gave the ode and NZDF Chaplain Captain Neil Carter and The Venerable Mark Barlow Vicar of Lincoln blessed the site.

The plaques were stolen from the cemetery between April and May. A woman responsible for the theft was sentenced in August to 26 months in prison. There is now an agreement with all scrap metal dealers in Christchurch to not accept memorial plaques.

The plaques were replaced by Veterans’ Affairs, with a contribution of more than $21,000 from its memorial fund, and their installation was overseen by Selwyn District Council.

Four soldiers in dress uniforms kneel and lift flags from plaques while family members look at plaques on a row behindA female soldier in a dress uniform kneels and removes the flag from a plaque