28th Māori Battalion Veteran forced to beg for assistance

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

A 28th Māori Battalion veteran has been left to hit the streets and beg for money to get by, after his pension was cut a month ago.

The former A Company soldier Selwyn Clarke's pension was cut after he failed to appear in court following his involvement in a land occupation.

Selwyn Clarke is at the Kaitaia markets today asking for money and assistance to get by.

Clarke says, “I thought I would receive the pension for the rest of my life, but now it's been cut and I'm here seeking financial support to live off.”

The veteran was trespassed by police following a protest occupation at Kaitaia Airport last year.

Police subsequently issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear in court to face charges and as a result his pension was cut. 

Clarke says, “The people who were arrested that day are the people who have rights to that land. The land does not belong to Ngāi Takoto neither does it belong to the government.”

Clara Heke-Herepete says, “Are they right to cut his pension? No I don't agree. He is an elderly who is unable to work anymore.”

Te Kāea is aware that the police have written to Clarke's former lawyer asking him to take action to resolve the situation but to date Clarke says he has not heard anything from them or the judiciary.

He says, “I was outside the WINZ office last week when police turned up and one of them was my kin. I told them too; so today I've come here and next week I'll return to the street outside the WINZ office.”

Ngawaiata Evans says, “This shouldn't be happening. His pension shouldn't be cut because he is staunch about land issues. Even here the fight for our land rights continues, it's not as though he is somewhere else fighting. He is a returned serviceman continuing the fight, that is a sign of nobility.”

Te Kāea is seeking details from Work and Income about his pension and awaits their reply.

Clarke says, “I recall seeing beggars in Egypt on my return from the war and thinking to myself. And yet here I am now an elderly man, and I'm begging in New Zealand, on my own land.”