April 12, 2015
Defence offers help with Agent Orange claim
The Defence Force has offered the Waitangi Tribunal use of its bases as well as other help for the inquiry into the treatment of Maori veterans of past wars.
The inquiry will be the first to under the tribunal's new kaupapa claim framework.
Because claimants will no longer be able to get the funding from the Crown Forest Rental Trust that has oiled the wheels of the historical claims process, the crown will need to find new ways to cover the costs of research and hearings.
In a memorandum sent to the tribunal last Friday, Crown Law said oral evidence hearings need to start as soon as possible, because of the age of the claimants and many of the witnesses.
It said as well as providing venues and catering for the hearings, Defence may provide transport for veterans to get to the hearings.
It also offered help researching the service records of veterans held in Defence Archives, and to commission the Defence Force historian to bring together evidence on topics like exposure of veterans to nuclear radiation or Agent Orange.
The Crown says it won’t cross examine veterans or their spouses in the oral evidence hearings, but if necessary would seek to contradict any evidence through written questions, or through its own submissions and evidence in the main hearings.
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