Veterans' Affairs New Zealand | #45, 2024

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ISSUE 45 MAY 2024

In this issue

Tēnā koutou katoa –greetings to all

Since our magazine was last published, there has been a change in Veterans’ Affairs policy relating to the Veterans’ Independence Programme. Most of you will now be aware that on 13 March, we temporarily suspended the Programme (known as VIP services) for new clients who don’t have a service-related health condition. The suspension will be in place for 12 months, with a review at the end of that time.

I appreciate change can be unsettling and I want to assure you that this decision was not one we took lightly. I can also assure you it’s not being done for cost-cutting or money-saving reasons. We have done it so we can better focus on ensuring that those veterans who have been injured or made ill because of their service, can readily access their entitlements. We know that some of you have had to wait a long time for your applications for support to be assessed, and for the support you need to be put in place. That’s not the standard of service we aim to give you, and something needed to be done about it.

There is also an item in this issue about progress with the Te Arataki work programme – The Veteran, Family and Whānau Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy Framework. Earlier this year we brought together a number of agencies, organisations and key leaders within the sector to review the actions that have taken place over the past year in support of Te Arataki. A lot has been happening. Our overall aim is a system that recognises veterans and their families, understands their shared experiences, and supports them to maintain and build their mental health and wellbeing. The Social Wellbeing Agency has done some great work, you can read more about this on page 6.

In closing I want to acknowledge all those who gathered on Anzac Day to remember and pay tribute to the thousands of New Zealanders who have given their lives in defence of our country in times of war and conflict. No matter where you were on Anzac Day, we are bound by the determination never to forget those who paid the ultimate price and their families.


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We therefore took the decision to redistribute some of our resources within Veterans’ Affairs, so that we can get assistance more quickly to those who have service-related conditions. For those who don’t have these conditions, we know there are other agencies in the community who can help, and we are encouraging veterans to apply to them if they need assistance. The RSA is also working with us to help point veterans to alternative support. More information about the temporary suspension of VIP for those without service-related conditions is on page 7 of this magazine. Please read it – and if you have any questions, please get in touch with us.

Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou. Lest we forget.

Until next time, stay safe and take care of each other.

3 Minister’s Message 4 CDF’s farewell message 5 The Veterans Stamps Series 6 Social Wellbeing Agency: Understanding our veteran population 7 The suspension of VIP Services 8 Rate Adjustments 11 Processing times for claims 12 Checklist for completing a form 13 Veterans’ Affairs signs MOU with the RNZRSA 14 Taskforce Kiwi 16 Guardian Angel of the ANZACs honoured at Parliament 17 Montecillo flagpole set to stand for another 100 years 18 Force Financial Hub welcomes the Police Credit Union 19 NZ Vietnam Veterans’ Association’s MOU with the Crown remains a living document About The Veterans’ Affairs Magazine The Veterans’ Affairs magazine is published by Veterans’ Affairs – Te Tira Ahu Ika A Whiro. The views expressed in Veterans’ Affairs are not necessarily those of Veterans’ Affairs
the New Zealand Defence Force. If
ISSN 2816-1319

Minister’s Message

This is my first message to you in the Veterans’ Affairs magazine since my appointment as Minister for Veterans, and it’s good to have this opportunity to pass on my greetings.

In the four months since I’ve been in this role there has been a lot to learn and a lot of people to see. I’ve particularly enjoyed being able, as your Minister, to meet with veterans from around New Zealand. Sometimes these have been formal meetings – in February, for example, I was invited to talk to the CMT Association in Taradale, and I was also delighted to be present at a ceremony in Auckland when Operation Grapple veterans were presented with medals issued in the UK and presented by the British High Commissioner. There have been lots of less formal opportunities too. A few weeks ago I spent a very enjoyable time with a veteran who lives in my electorate, and who has just had his 101st birthday – it was a privilege to sit with him, as he shared

moments of his time in the military, many decades before some of today’s veterans were even born. And there are often occasions when I meet veterans casually when I am out and about on the street, or doing my shopping. I haven’t yet been to one of the Veterans’ Affairs’ veteran forums, but I’m planning to do this as soon as I can, and I’ll be very interested to see the range of what is available to Veterans’ Affairs’ clients. I care about New Zealand’s veterans, and I recognise and value the service that you have all given to this country. Over the coming months, I’m looking forward to continuing to develop my understanding about the issues that are important to you, and to working with Veterans’ Affairs to achieve positive and tangible results for you and your families, wherever this is possible.

Photo: Minister for Veterans Hon. Chris Penk with Doug Reid, at Ranfurly Veterans Home. Photo: Kelly Blyth


farewell message

Kia ora koutou
As my time as Chief of Defence Force comes to an end after six years, it has been a chance for me and my family to reflect on the many aspects of this role. One of the most enjoyable parts of my command has been the breadth and variety of this role, and my dealings with the veteran community have played a huge part in this.

I would like to thank the many veterans that I have engaged with over my time as Chief, whether at commemorations, public events or through other engagements.

It has been an honour to not only represent the veteran community and their family/whānau, but also to play a part in seeing key pieces of work come together which will help provide ongoing support to veterans, alongside other agencies. For example, we have worked hard to see the increase in support to Vietnam veterans, and the launch of the Veteran Family and Whānau Health and Wellbeing Policy Framework.

This Framework will help ensure the individuals and organisations which contribute to mental health and wellbeing of veterans and families are better prepared to guide those who served our country.

There has also been increased work on policies and support options, and while there is always more work to be done in this space, I’m proud of the progress that has been made.

I also wish to take this opportunity to extend my many thanks to those who work for Veterans’ Affairs, supporting the community in the many varied ways that you do.

To our veteran community – those still serving, ex-serving, and your families –thank you for your service.


The Veterans Stamps Series

On April 11 Veterans’ Affairs and NZ Post launched the Veterans Stamps Series. The veterans portrayed in the stamps are Rebecca Brierton, Vance Leach (both formerly of the Royal New Zealand Navy), Ange Coyle, Ben Peckham (both formerly of the New Zealand Army), and Kelley Waite, and David Bennett (both formerly of the Royal New Zealand Air Force).

The Minister for Veterans, Hon. Chris Penk, the Deputy Head of Veterans’ Affairs, Alex Brunt and NZ Post’s Head Head of Stamps and Collectibles, Antony Harris all attended the launch, and Minister Penk and Antony Harris presented each veteran with their own collectible edition of the stamp series. The launch included touching speeches from each of the veterans, some about how they responded when they left service, about the difficultly they had accepting that they were a veteran, and others about being recognized and honoured to represent veterans from these deployments. You can read more about Rebecca, Vance, Ange, Ben, Kelley and David at

Some background to these stamps

In 2020 Malaya Veteran Bill Russell approached NZ Post with the idea of a stamp that would commemorate the Malaya Campaign.

Several years later the Malaya Campaign commemoration which Bill had hoped to celebrate with a stamp had passed, but the idea of a stamp series featuring veterans was still alive. The project team re-formed and chose to highlight veterans from recent deployments.

The featured veterans are from the three services and all are recipients of the New Zealand Operational Service Medal (NZOSM). The ribbon of the NZOSM is in the background of each portrait.

The aim of this stamp series is to show the New Zealand public that many veterans are just like themselves, all living and working within our communities. They are ordinary people who at times in their lives performed extraordinary service for their country.

If you would like to buy one of the stamps or the series you can at NZ Post Collectables, https://collectables.

Photo: Ange Coyle, formerly of the NZ Army, with Minister for Veterans Hon. Chris Penk.

Social Wellbeing Agency Understanding our veteran population

Te Arataki update

The Social Wellbeing Agency carried out an analysis of the veteran population using data from the Statistics New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure. Their work has come about from their involvement with Te Arataki, the Veteran, Family and Whānau Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

“Understanding more about the veteran population is a priority area for Te Arataki,” says Alex Brunt, Deputy Head of Veterans’ Affairs.

The report provides rich data about the demographics of the veteran population, particularly younger veterans who completed their service after 1999.

“A key out-take is that veterans’ health and wellbeing is worse than that of other New Zealanders after the age of 60. That knowledge will enable government agencies to better target their services.”

For the Social Wellbeing Agency, it has been a great project.

“It has been exciting to be part of the first demographic analysis of the veteran population in New Zealand,” says Aphra Green, Deputy Chief Executive, Policy, Data and Insights,

at the Social Wellbeing Agency. “We hope this analysis can contribute to the wellbeing of veterans in our society.”

“This data will be useful in understanding the characteristics of the veteran population and particularly when they transition from military services to civilian life.”

The analysis included all those who have completed a period of military service, but who no longer serve. It used data from employment, occupation, pension and other administrative data sources to identify veterans who were alive and in New Zealand in 2021. The Stats NZ Integrated Data Infrastructure is a de-identified data set that enables research across different sectors, and can provide insights into our society and economy.

The report, Building an evidence base for understanding veteran outcomes, will be published on the Social Wellbeing Agency’s website in May.

Photo: In February, Veterans’ Affairs brought together over 20 agencies, organisations and key leaders within the sector to review the actions that have been taken on the Te Arataki work programme to date. The Minister for Veterans, Hon. Chris Penk, joined the symposium to hear from the agencies and organisations about what has been progressed. Agencies represented on the day included MSD, Te Whatu Ora, Social Wellbeing Agency, ACC, Department of Corrections, NZDF, RNZRSA, No Duff, SSAANZ, Ranfurly Veterans’ Trust, and the Royal New Zealand College of GPs.


The suspension of VIP Services and accessing home help assistance

On 13 March 2024, Veterans’ Affairs suspended the Veterans’ Independence Programme (VIP) for new clients without a servicerelated condition. This suspension will be until March 2025. There will be no change to the availability and delivery of VIP services to veterans who have a service-related injury or illness that we have accepted or for a veteran who already has VIP services in place. This suspension only affects VIP services. All other entitlements, claims, and support are available as usual.

We understand that the suspension of these home support services is disappointing, however this difficult decision was made to allow us to direct resources to veterans with a service-related health condition. Veterans may be able receive home support services from Te Whatu Ora or Work and Income.

An important first step is to discuss their health and requirements with their GP. GPs can refer their patients to home support services from either Te Whatu Ora or to Work and Income for the Disability Allowance.

There is also Seniorline which is a directory service that helps over 65 year olds navigate the health system and other Government support agencies. They can be contacted at 0800 725 463 (between 8:00am and 4:00pm)

The RNZRSA may also be able to offer some assistance. The contact details of the RSA District Support Managers can be found on their website

Disablement Weekly Rate ($) 5% 13.89 10% 27.78 15% 41.67 20% 55.56 25% 69.45 30% 83.34 35% 97.23 40% 111.12 45% 125.01 50% 138.91 55% 152.80 60% 166.69 65% 180.58 70% 194.47 75% 208.36 80% 222.25 85% 236.14 90% 250.03 95% 263.92 100% 277.81 Disablement Weekly Rate ($) 105% 291.68 110% 305.58 115% 319.47 120% 333.36 125% 347.25 130% 361.14 135% 375.03 140% 388.92 145% 402.81 150% 416.70 155% 430.59 160% 444.48 Disablement Weekly Rate ($) 105% 320.85 110% 336.14 115% 351.42 120% 366.70 125% 381.98 130% 397.25 135% 412.53 140% 427.81 145% 443.09 150% 458.37 155% 473.65 160% 488.93 Ordinary Rates Rates for those with Severe Disablement Rates for those with Severe Disablement: Aged 60 Years and over Rate
From 1 April 2024 War Disablement Pension 8
Impairment Rating (%) Weekly Rate ($) 5-7 13.90 8-12 27.80 13-17 41.69 18-22 55.55 23-25 69.45 26-30 83.34 31-32 97.24 33-37 111.12 38-41 125.03 42-47 138.92 48-49 152.79 50 166.67 51 180.58 52-54 194.46 55-57 208.36 58-61 222.26 62-66 236.14 67 250.04 68-74 263.91 75 277.81 76 291.71 77 305.59 78 319.46 79 333.37 80 347.26 81 375.04 82 402.83 83 430.59 84 458.38 85-100 488.95 Disablement Pension Lump Sums ($) Retirement Lump sum $42,878.59 Asset Threshold for Couple (excl house and vehicle) $389,805.45 Asset Threshold for Single or Couple (incl house and vehicle) $649,675.74 Motor Vehicle Grant Total Lower Body Impairment $23,792.58 Severe Lower Body Impairment $10,707.36 Motor Vehicle Fitting Grant $3,841.49 Funeral Expenses $3,128.19 Transportation of body within same locality $832.32 Transportation of body to a different locality $1,664.65 Annual Rate ($) Children’s Bursary (Orphans and Children of Veteran's Pension) $1,159.81 Full Time Year 9-13 $1,159.81 Full-time Tertiary $1,376.25 Part-time Tertiary $579.84 Children’s Bursary (Other Children) Full Time Year 9-13 $579.86 Full-time Tertiary $688.09 Part-time Tertiary $289.91 Annual Rates Scheme One entitlement rates Weekly Rate ($) Clothing Allowance Loss of two limbs or parts 29.50 Loss of leg or part 28.48 Loss of arm or part 20.63 Use of mechanical appliance (maximum) 20.63 Soiling of Clothing 20.63 Travelling Allowance 32.03 Weekly Rates Other Payments Weekly Rate ($) Surviving Spouse or Partner Pension 204.95 Dependants Pension 204.95 Children's Pension 219.44 Weekly Income Compensation 1,244.93 Battery Allowance Monaural 1.35 Binaural 2.74 Other Weekly Rates Entitlements
One and Scheme Two Weekly Rate ($) Allowance for Decorations 39.88
The Allowance for Decorations is available for recipients of the United Kingdom Gallantry Awards only. Allowances VETERANS’ AFFAIRS ISSUE 45 MAY 2024 9
Common to Scheme

Veteran’s Pension and Lump Sums

levy increase and Student Loan threshold change

For self-employed veterans receiving weekly compensation, ACC Earners’ Levy is increasing

The ACC Earners’ Levy is the employee’s contribution to ACC, will increase from $1.53 per $100 (1.53%) to $1.60 per $100 (1.60%) on the 1 April 2024. This levy is charged at a flat rate each year. For more information, please visit income-tax-for-individuals/acc-clientsand-carers/acc-earners-levy-rates

Student Loan threshold is increasing

For veterans with a student, 12% of every dollar earned over the threshold amount is repaid toward the loan. The annual threshold is increasing from $22,828 to $24,128 on the 1 April 2024. For weekly payrolls, this means the threshold will increase to $464 per week.

Questions about Veteran’s Pension and Lump Sums For information about the Veteran’s Pension and Lump Sum Payments contact the Veterans’ Pension Centre. Freephone 0800 650 656 contact-us/veterans-contacts.html Gross Weekly Rate ($) Veteran’s Pension Single living alone rate $606.67 Single sharing accommodation rate $558.31 Relationship rate $461.41 Relationship (partner not receiving superannuation or pension) $874.88
(partner not receiving superannuation or pension) legacy rate $922.82 Lump Sums ($) Lump Sum Payment on death of veteran 7,415.97 If veteran was, before 1 April 1990, receiving a war veteran’s allowance under the War Pension’s Act 1954 18,698.76 Lump Sum Payment on death of spouse or partner of veteran 5,654.89 Weekly Rates Lump Sums 10

Processing times for claims

Veterans’ Affairs is focussing on reducing the long wait times. For some types of claims we’ve made progress but we haven’t yet been able to reduce processing times across the board. In the table below we have made a distinction between the different types of claims.

Average processing times for claims

The table below shows the average number of days it takes to process claims¹:

Why processing times vary

Some claims are relatively simple and normally processed quickly. However, more complicated claims take longer to process. Those claims might:

• include complex conditions

• need further information from medical specialists.

What we’re doing to reduce processing times

This year we are:

¹This table includes over 90% of the entitlements that we administer. In the last 6 months we have been able to process more claims than the previous period.

Number of claims

The table below shows the total number of claims in different states of completion²:

• training more staff

• improving our processes

• triaging and prioritising claims

• checking all claims as they are received to identify and follow up on any missing information

• working with other veteran support groups to help veterans apply and submit a good application.

²Any differences between the previous and current period’s data are partially due to some of the claims being worked on at the time of the report. They weren’t counted as ‘Claims in progress’. Often, these differences are due to when the reports are run to create this data.

Types of claims 1 January to 30 June 2023 1 July to 31 December 2023 Disablement Pension 324 361 Funeral Expenses 68 50 Independence Allowance 328 292 Permanent Impairment Lump Sum 154 197 Surviving Spouse or Partner Pension 66 60 Weekly Compensation 80 111 Types of claims 1 January
30 June 2023 1 July
31 December 2023 New claims 1,436 1,309 Processed claims 1,046 1,453 Claims in progress 2,702 2,393

Checklist for completing a form

This checklist is for most of our forms. Some of our forms do have additional information requirements, but the following checklist will still be a worthwhile guide for you.


Check that you have completed all the fields or boxes

For your first application to Veterans’ Affairs, ensure that you have at least one of the following forms of identification (ID):

Current passport

Driver licence

Firearms licence

SuperGold card

Full birth certificate

(If you supply us with a birth certificate, we will also require another form of ID with your signature).

If you don’t have any of the above forms of ID, please contact us on 0800 483 8372

Ensure the doctor or health practitioner has:

Completed their sections of questions

Attached any supporting documentation


Attach the receipt for your doctor’s appointment and approved travel form if claiming a travel reimbursement.

Read the Privacy Statement

Sign the completed form

To send in a Claim

1. Email

You can email the form and any supporting documents to

Our email system has a maximum file size limit and anything over that limit will be blocked. The total size of the files in your email must be under 15MB.

2. Paper copy

Send the form and any supporting documents to:

Veterans’ Affairs PO Box 5146 Wellington 6140 New Zealand


Veterans’ Affairs signs Memorandum of Understanding with the RNZRSA

For many years Veterans’ Affairs and the RNZRSA have worked closely together, united by a shared aim of ensuring that New Zealand’s veterans are recognised, honoured, and supported. Our roles are different, but very much complementary, and Veterans’ Affairs values the work that the RNZRSA – and all the local RSAs – are able to do in their work on the ground in the veteran community. In 2015, our two organisations signed our first Memorandum of Understanding, which spelled out arrangements for working together in the future. Veterans’ Affairs and the RNZRSA meet regularly to talk about shared interests and joint work, and to

sort out any particular issues, and last year it was decided that, after eight years, the MOU should be reviewed and updated. The new version was signed last December. It takes into account how our two agencies will manage some of the new challenges we face together – such as the sharing of information in line with the requirements of the privacy legislation that is now in place.

The MOU also confirms our shared commitment to work together wherever possible to advance our common objectives, and to work in partnership by developing joint approaches to support veterans and their families and whānau.

The photo above shows the formal signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 7 December 2023. It commits both our organisations to a positive and productive relationship, focused on mutual respect, a high level of trust, excellent channels of communication and true partnership.

Photo: Bernadine Mackenzie, Head of Veterans’ Affairs, and Marty Donoghue, Chief Executive of the RNZRSA.

Taskforce Kiwi

Taskforce Kiwi have been busy at home and all over the world

While we continued our Cyclone Gabrielle relief work in Hawke’s Bay, we still managed (in June 2023) to send another seven Taskforce Kiwis to assist Team Rubicon Canada with wildfire relief in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Established in 2022, Taskforce Kiwi is a not-for-profit group that utilises the skills and experience of former and serving defence and emergency services personnel to provide direct assistance to impacted communities before, during and after disasters.

Richard Adams, National Director
Photo: NZDF veteran Jenny alongside locals in the earthquake affected Atlas Mountains region of Morocco.

Then at the beginning of 2024, we deployed 20 for over four weeks to Queensland to support Disaster Relief Australia in their recovery efforts following Cyclone Jasper. While the Australian relief effort was underway, two more of our team arrived in Morocco to link-up with the UK-based REACT Disaster Response team to provide support following the devastating earthquake that hit the Atlas Mountains region.

Just to keep us busy, another 14 Taskforce Kiwis spent 5 weeks in Vanuatu, carrying out damage assessments of 88 schools on three remote islands.

Closer to home, we supported the Christchurch communities impacted by the bushfires in the Port Hills, and then the Loburn community of North Canterbury who also faced wildfires. There our teams removed debris, demolished buildings, removed fire damaged vegetation, and searched for personal effects in the remains of homes.

It has been a big 12 months, but one where our volunteers have made a real difference, helping those who need it most.

We were pleased to be asked to accept a Community of the Year Award on behalf of all the volunteers who helped out after Cyclone Gabrielle at the New Zealander of the Year ceremony. As volunteers our people don’t serve for recognition or reward, but it was great to be recognised alongside all those that gave their time to help those devastated communities.

Taskforce Kiwi has 540 registered volunteers, of which over half are current or were serving members of NZDF. More volunteers are always welcome. If you are interested in joining please check out their website


Guardian Angel of the ANZACs honoured at Parliament

On 10 April the New Zealand Remembrance Army (NZRA) presented an art work to the Speaker of the House in the form of a portrait of Ettie Rout by former New Zealand Army Artist Matt Gauldie. Ettie Rout was one of the most remarkable New Zealand women of the 20th century. Known as the “Guardian Angel of the ANZACs”, she was one of New Zealand’s earliest sexual health campaigners, who openly addressed the high sexual infection rates amongst New Zealand soldiers. She is now regarded as being ahead of her time, but during her own life time she was regarded as eccentric.

She was given no credit or recognition for her work, and openly ignored by New Zealand, despite being formally recognised by the United Kingdom and France. The portrait of Ettie is now on permanent loan to the New Zealand Parliament.

“ It’s a long time coming and well overdue, but his year we’re finally getting Ettie’s efforts recognised by New Zealand after 106 years with her family present”
– Simon Strombom, Managing Director of the NZRA

Montecillo flagpole set to stand for another 100 years

However, an inspection of the flagpole showed that the bottom 6-8 feet was rotten. Determined not to replace 100 years of history with a new one, the Trust and a local builder found a way to preserve much of the original hand carved wooden flagpole.

With a plan in place, the Montecillo Trust applied to us for funding. We contributed just over $1,600 to the project, and now the Montecillo flagpole has been repaired and all set for Anzac Day.

This project is one of 16 projects that we have contributed to this year around the country.

Montecillo Veterans Home & Hospital has been a part of Dunedin’s history for over 100 years, and so has the flagpole which has stood proud outside the home for just as long. The earliest photo of the flagpole is from 1922, outside the Eglinton Road property. When the home and hospital moved in 2006, the flagpole moved too.

Have you heard of the Commemorative travel fund?

Commemorative travel funding is available to veterans with Qualifying Operational Service to attend a commemoration or reunion that is related to their qualifying service –in either New Zealand or overseas. You can also use it to revisit the place of your qualifying service. When you submit your commemorative travel application, you need to supply supporting evidence. This can vary depending if you apply to us before or after your trip, but we need to see your financial commitment to your travel.

You can find out more information about the commemorative travel fund and how to apply on our website


Force Financial Hub welcomes the Police Credit Union

Veterans and their families now have access to financial related services provided by the Police Credit Union (PCU), thanks to a recent agreement between the NZDF and PCU.

PCU services include fixed term deposits at competitive rates, Christmas savings, personal loans and mortgages, as well as reverse mortgages for older members. These are now available to Defence community members including Veterans and their families.

According to PCU acting Chief Executive Richard Middleton, Police and NZDF are both Crown agencies tasked with protecting the public. The two organisations work very closely together. Their respective personnel share similar cultures and values. “Reflecting these factors, it was logical for us to offer PCU services to Defence community members. Expanding our client base to include Defence provides the opportunity to grow, and to provide more benefits to both Police and Defence community members. This is a win-win”.

The PCU attended recent Veterans’ Expos in West Auckland and Lower Hutt where there was considerable interest in its services.

Head of Veterans’ Affairs, Bernadine Mackenzie, welcomes the NZDF/PCU agreement. “I am very pleased to see PCU services also made available to Veterans and their families. These services are aimed at building the long term financial resilience of Veterans’ households.”

Find out more at

The Veterans’ Section welcomes any veteran who would like to join us for for companionship, support and lively conversation. Our current members include former service people from New Zealand, Australia, Britain, South Africa, the US, and from the Police. The joining fee is the RSA’s subscription of $30 per year, but if you are already a member then there is no further charge. Members meet every second Thursday at the Rangiora RSA from 3:00pm.

For more information email Chris Gunn

Calling Waimakariri vets, come along to the Veterans’ Section, Rangiora RSA

Vietnam Veterans’ Association’s MOU with the Crown remains a living document

It’s almost 18 years since representatives of Vietnam veterans signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Crown. This MOU summarised all the actions that New Zealand undertook to do to recognise the service of those who went to Vietnam. For many years their exposure to the toxic chemical, Agent Orange, and the resulting health problems, weren’t recognised.

The MOU, signed in December 2006, aimed to acknowledge the past, put things right, and improve services to Vietnam veterans. This document still guides New Zealand’s treatment of those veterans and their families today. Most significantly, two years ago the Crown and Vietnam veterans worked together to develop a process to add new conditions known to be associated with Agent Orange exposure to the list of those that would result in an ex gratia payment to a veteran.

Veterans’ Affairs meets twice each year with the NZ Vietnam Veterans’ Association (NZVVA) working group to talk through how the MOU is going, what new things are happening, and how it can still remain relevant.

The two groups agree on the status of each provision of the MOU, updating it where that’s required, and the resulting document is published on both organisations’ websites. You can check it out on the Veterans’ Affairs website. Of most interest at the moment, are some developments Veterans’ Affairs is bringing in relating to making it easier for Vietnam veterans and their GPs to manage the veterans’ annual medical assessments; and making sure that veterans’ families, and in particular their children, know what their entitlements are as well.

The NZVVA and Veterans’ Affairs have an excellent close working relationship, and this helps to make sure that there is a clear and positive focus on what

“ The MOU is important to our Vietnam veteran community – and it’s good to know it’s important to the Crown as well”
– Graham Gibson, National President NZ Vietnam Veterans’ Association

needs to be done to ensure that the MOU is delivering what it was always intended to deliver for this group of veterans and their families.

This is also the view of the National President of the Association, Graham Gibson. “The MOU is important to our Vietnam veteran community –and it’s good to know it’s important to the Crown as well. Actions speak louder than words – and some solid actions are coming out of our work on the MOU with Veterans’ Affairs”.

He also notes that the MOU was negotiated with all veteran cohorts in mind. “It was formulated in such a way that no veterans in the future should have to suffer or fight to gain fair treatment for themselves and their whānau, like the Vietnam veterans did. And we’re continuing to work to get the best possible outcomes for veterans and their families, now and in years to come”.

Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Taupō Cenotaph. Photo: Sam Shepherd
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