The stolen Waiouru Army Museum medals
will be officially returned today, and once again be on display to
the public.

The 96 medals, including Charles Upham’s two Victoria Crosses,
were plundered from museum display cases in an audacious robbery in
December last year before being returned in February, undamaged.

The hunt for the thieves, dubbed Operation Valour has been
described as extremely complex and sensitive, and last week two men
were arrested and charged with burglary as a result of the medal

In a special ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial
Museum today, the medals will be blessed, with three local iwi from
the area, Ngati Rangi, Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngati Tumatauenga,

Police will formally hand the medals over to the museum. Family
members of medal winners will then lodge their respective medal
groups into the Valour Alcove in what is expected to be the most
emotional event of the day.

With new security measures in place, all 12 medal sets will be
placed in the Valour Alcove by midday and the public will be able to
view them from 1pm.

Chief of Army Major General Lou Gardiner said the army was
celebrating the return of the medals.

“The Army Museum Waiouru is the home for New Zealand’s Army
military heritage and taonga. It is fantastic that we can celebrate
the return and display of these medal sets for all New Zealanders to
enjoy once again,”
Maj Gen Gardiner said.

“The theft was a theft from the nation and we acknowledge the
support of the New Zealand public in helping return these treasures
home. It is their support and the public outcry that help brought
about the successful return of the medals,” Maj Gen Gardiner said.

“The army and the museum’s trust are committed to its
responsibility to care for, and display the medals on behalf of all
New Zealanders, particularly those that have made the ultimate
sacrifice for our country.”

Following last week’s arrests, a 39-year-old from Te Atatu
Peninsula and a 37-year-old from Waimauku were remanded without plea
to appear again this week in the Auckland District Court.