Labour MPs backing war vets

By Ripeka Timutimu
  • Northland
  • North Island: West Coast
  • Wellington

Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri says the government has been negligent in their treatment of Māori war veterans. Whaitiri says that treatment has led some soldiers to alcoholism, which had a huge impact on generations in her electorate.

Meka Whaitiri hasn't seen action in war, but she says Māori veterans have been let down by the government, “There’s definitely a case to say many of our returning war veterans after putting their lives on the line they didn't receive the same treatment as pākehā.”

Whaitiri says the stories she has heard from Māori veterans are heart breaking and says the battle scars run deep, “Alcoholism was rife, and we’ve heard that in front of the tribunal. We also heard of family violence because they weren't treated in the same regard as others.”

Māori Labour MPs are backing Māori veterans tabling their grievances in a hearing to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Labour MP for the Tai Tokerau seat Kelvin Davis says, “There hasn't been much support for them. We have to remember that they went to fight for us. Some died overseas so it's only right that we are there for them in their hour of need.”

This includes the repatriation of around 60 soldiers who lie buried in countries like Malaysia.

Kelvin Davis says the cost to bring them home is worth it.

“Cost isn't an issue. If the families want their family member back, then they should be repatriated,” says Davis.

The price of citizenship has been huge for Māori, and it's hoped that it hasn't been in vain.