June 13, 2023
Waitangi Tribunal hears veterans’ woes
Former defence minister Ron Mark hopes the Waitangi Tribunal veterans’ inquiry will help unite people.
After almost eight years of preparation, hearings on the Wai 2500 claim started in Rotorua yesterday.
It will include issues such as the treatment of service people and their families who were affected by Agent Orange in Vietnam, and even further back the treatment of returning soldiers after World War 1, when pakeha soldiers were given farms, often on Maori land taken for the purpose, but no farms were given to Maori veterans.
Mr Mark says part of being in the military is learning history so you don’t make the mistakes of the past.
He says the Defence Force has changed in recent decades as it has become infused with Maori culture to become the entity known as Ngati Tumatauenga.
“It’s marvelous. It’s wonderful and it makes us so unique around the world and people know they’re dealing with Kiwis becase it’s right there in the haka, it’s right there in the waiata, right there in the powhiri right at the start and it’s there when we leave, they know the Kiwis have been. They know we’re not British and they know we’re not Australian and they know we’re not Americans,” Mr Mark says.
He says the hearing is probably long overdue.