The Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Tūhoe) is to make the first presentation of medals to New Zealand entertainers, including the members of a number of Māori showbands, who performed for troops during the Vietnam War.
The request for medallic recognition was initiated by an inquiry from one of the entertainers, Herewini (Selwyn) Rawiri, who has since died.
Six recipients will receive medals while seven family members will accept medals on behalf of entertainers who are deceased or unable to attend for health reasons.
The entertainers will be awarded the New Zealand General Service Medal 1992 with clasp “Vietnam” and the New Zealand Operational Service Medal.
The United States Service Organisation contracted a range of entertainers and show bands to entertain United States and Allied troops serving in Vietnam.
Over 40 New Zealand citizens entertained our troops in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972. Members of the Māori Quin Tikis, the Māori Te Kiwis, the Māori Ambassadors, the Māori Volcanics, the Māori HyMarques, the Māori Travellieres showbands entertained troops in Vietnam. They were joined by New Zealand vocalists such as Dinah Lee and the Sheratons.
During World War II entertainers were enlisted in the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force and qualified for medallic recognition.
In 2012, New Zealand comedian Mike King received the New Zealand General Service Medal 2002 (Afghanistan) Primary Operational Area and the New Zealand Operational Service Medal for providing entertainment to New Zealand troops in Afghanistan for 30 days.
The ceremony will take place at Government House Auckland on Wednesday 20 July.