The volcanic dust cloud that caused the cancellation of flights across Europe has forced Governor-General, Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, to abandon attempts to attend the State Funeral of the President of Poland.
Sir Anand left New Zealand on Thursday night to attend the State Funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria Kaczynska in Krakow on Sunday.
On arrival in Los Angeles, however, Sir Anand and his Aide-de-Camp found their flight to London had been cancelled. Sir Anand spent the night in Los Angeles, and yesterday flew to New York for a possible direct flight to the Polish capital, Warsaw.
However, this morning the flight from New York to Warsaw was cancelled due to the closure of European airspace, making it unlikely Sir Anand would be able to attend the State Funeral.
Official Secretary at Government House, Robert Taylor, said it was decided that the Governor-General should return home.
"This decision was made very reluctantly. The Governor-General wanted to pass on in person the condolences of all New Zealanders at the tragic loss of the President, his wife and so many other senior members of Polish government and society.
"However, the disruption to flights caused by the volcanic dust cloud made it impossible to get the Governor-General to Poland in time for the funeral. We were also concerned that if the Governor-General made it to Europe, the ongoing disruption could have seen him stuck outside New Zealand for a lengthy period of time. While the Governor-General is unable to attend the funeral, he reiterates his condolences to Polish people on the tragic loss of their President and so many others."
New Zealand will be represented at the funeral by New Zealand's Ambassador to Poland, Dr Penelope Ridings.
The Governor-General is expected to back in New Zealand on Monday. While the Governor-General is overseas, the Chief Justice, Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias, is the Administrator of the Government.
For more information contact: Antony Paltridge, Public Affairs Manager, 021 470 583