On Sunday, almost 9,000 miles away from New York City, more than 160 New Zealand firefighters performed a powerful and emotional haka to honor their colleagues who were killed in the line of duty at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
The haka, a traditional Maori war dance that is often used to honor a person or express collective emotion, was performed during the annual Memorial Firefighter Stair Climb, held at the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand.
Steven San Filippo, a New York firefighter and Battalion Chief who was a part of rescue efforts at Ground Zero, was a guest of honor at the event.
He said the ceremony was a “tremendous honor to be commemorating our guys here on the other side of the world,” according to local newspaper Stuff.
During the two hour ceremony, event organizers read aloud the names of all 343 New York City firefighters who died on the tragic day 15 years ago, along with the names of 56 New Zealand firefighters who have died while serving their country.
After the performance, the New Zealand firefighters, donning full fire gear, climbed up the 1,000-step staircase of Auckland’s Sky Tower while carrying special tags bearing the names of the fallen FDNY servicemen.
Some firefighters completed the climb twice, according to trade magazine Firefighter Nation.
“This spreads the word of the tremendous effort that the New York City firefighters made on 9/11, 2001,” Filippo said during the ceremony.
“They were protecting life and property in the city of New York,” he added. “And you know what? Any department anywhere in the world would have done the same thing.”
You can watch the entire ceremony below.