Díli, 17 março, 2017 – H.E. the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, on Friday during a ceremony held at Nicolau Lobato Presidential Palace, awarded the Grand Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste to former Governor-General of New Zeland, Sir Jerry Mateparae.

The decoration expresses the recognition of the State of Timor-Leste for those, both nationals and foreigners, who in their professional or social activity, or even in a spontaneous act of bravery or altruism, have significantly contributed to the benefit of the country, the Timorese people or humanity.

Present at the ceremony were Prime Minister Dr Rui Maria Araújo, the president of National Parliament, Aderito de Jesus Hugo, the First Lady Isabel da Costa Ferreira, and former President of the Republic (2007-2012) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Dr José Ramos-Horta, among other guests.

In his speech following the ceremony, the Head of State talked about the decoration’s symbolism,

The awarding of the Grand Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste, the country’s highest honour, symbolises my appreciation and that of the Timorese people to Sir Jerry Mataparae for services rendered to both Timor-Leste and the Timorese. New Zealand is a regional power which promotes stability in the great region of Asia Pacific to which our two countries belong.”

In 1999, New Zealand contributed, from the very beginning, to the international forces which saved lives in our country, in a moment of serious national crisis. New Zealand forces made it possible for our people to realise their right to self-determination. Allow me to pay our deepest respect and tribute to those who, with effort, courage and sacrifice, and even their own lives, contributed to the realisation of this right.”

H.E. the President also praised the cooperation between the New Zealand police and the PNTL, namely in establishment of the community policing programme to the benefit of Timor-Leste.

The ceremony was followed by a lunch hosted in honour of Sir Jerry Mataparae.

The former Governor-General of New Zealand arrived in Dili on Thursday at the invitation of the Head of State. His two-day stay included a visit to Metinaro’s Garden of Heroes and to the Museum of the Timorese Resistance. END