25 Oct 2008

Clark and Peters cross paths at farmers' market

4:37 pm on 25 October 2008

Labour leader Helen Clark and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters have crossed paths on the campaign trail, in what they describe as a coincidence.

The chance meeting between Miss Clark and her stood-down foreign minister happened at the Gisborne farmers' market.

After initially circling in opposite directions, the pair met, shook hands and briefly exchanged pleasantries.

Miss Clark says she did not know Mr Peters was going to be at the market, but obviously if he was there she was going to greet him.

Mr Peters says the meeting was pure chance, and nothing should be read it into it about post-election relationships.

Both Miss Clark and Mr Peters, together with representatives of the National Party and the Maori Party, then went to Te Poho-O-Rawiri Marae for the launch of a book celebrating C Company of the 28th Maori Battalion.

Nga Tama Toa launch

Thousands gathered at the marae for the book launch, including a handful of surviving veterans.

Nga Tama Toa contains oral histories of the company known as the Cowboys because of their recruitment from the East Coast.

Descendants of battalion members earlier reenacted the march made by the returning Second World War troops, from the railway station to the marae.

Many carried photos of those who served in the battalion.

Organisers say efforts have been made to bring together the country's remaining 50 Maori Battalion veterans.

Only 16 members of C Company are still alive.