PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 August, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 August, 2000, 12:00am

Aoteoroa, a small country on the fringes of the Pacific Rim, is noted for the quality of its white wine, excellence of its seafood and lamb and for producing some of the greatest rugby players the world has ever seen.

New Zealanders (Aoteoroa is the Maori name for the country) have stood shoulder to shoulder with the greatest nations in support of Western concepts of freedom without losing their individuality or their own concept of what is right and wrong. Their involvement in East Timor is an example. The greatest respect granted a New Zealander is a minute of silence at an All Black international.

Private Leonard Manning was honoured in this way for the sacrifice he made while performing his duty in search of peace in East Timor. Losing a man like Private Manning is a loss for all right-thinking individuals and nations. However, New Zealand's involvement around the world will not be diminished because of his death.

The countries that make up the 'Shanghai Five' group, and many Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries preaching non-intervention, have much to learn from this small nation.

One can only hope that countries which should be leading the region in the search for peace will now stand up and be counted instead of hiding behind petty rhetoric and feeble excuses.