Defence chief joins WWI service in Europe

  • 07/10/2017
Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating.
Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating. Photo credit: file

New Zealand's military boss has jetted to Belgium to join a service marking 100-years since the World War I Battle of Passchendaele.

The battle highlighted the conflict's terribly high death toll, Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating says.

"More than 1900 New Zealanders lost their lives in less than a month - 960 of them were killed or succumbed to their wounds sustained on just one of these days, the 12th of October, 1917," he said.

"Passchendaele was a tragedy that left scars that have endured for generations."

Lieutenant General Keating is also set to use the trip to meet his Chief of Defence counterparts General Bjorn Bisserup in Denmark and General Claudio Graziano in Italy.

He said New Zealand and Denmark shared similar values in support of peace and democracy and both sought to maximise the influence of their small militaries.

"A key focus for both countries is maritime security and surveillance," he said.

Italy and New Zealand, meanwhile, both have troops deployed in the Middle East, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Multinational Force Observers in Sinai in Egypt.