In 1976 Paul Thomas (V4) promised his mother that he would bring back to NZ the body of his brother Adrian who was Killed in Action in Malaya whilst serving with the NZSAS. He is buried at Kuala Lumpar.
Since then, Paul has vigorously campaigned various NZ Governments to repatriate all servicemen and a dependant that are buried in Malaysian cemeteries. They include; Kaumunting, Taiping; Cheras Road Christian Cemetery,
Kuala Lumpar and Terendak Camp, Malacca. It includes the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War.
Jack Williams (KIA) and Don Frith (DOAS) both V4 are buried at Terendak.
Paul has been actively involved with speaking to and visiting families, the President of the RNZRSA, politicians and
An article on this appeared in the Sunday Star Times on the 24th May 2015. (See the link below).
Judith Collins (National MP) wrote a column on her views and Phil Goff (Labour MP) responded. (See link below).
Paul and Andy Peters (V4) also appeared on the Native Affairs programme, Maori TV on 25th May 2015.
(See link below).
Further media coverage is likely.
As at the 11th June 2015, The Prime Minister of NZ, John Key has not approved any repatriation.
In May 2015, the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott approved the repatriation of all Australian Ex Vietnam Servicemen buried in Malaysia and Singapore. He will respect the wishes of their families to repatriate or not, to any location in Australia at no cost to them. Repatriation should be completed by mid 2016 with full military honours.
Sunday Star Times Article
Judith Collins column and Phil Goff’s response
Native Affairs TV Interview with Mihingarangi Forbes
Comments are welcome via the Contact Us Section of this website.
Paul intends to do a bike ride from the Bluff to Cape Reinga to publicise his goal and has asked that no missiles be thrown at him or his bike ie eggs, tomatoes, sauce etc.
Well done Paul!! Bring back those Fallen whose families want back. Money is not an issue when the cost of changing the flag is considered. I support you 100%
George Preston W3 161 Bty
Politicians' change very frequently. Once a soldier, always a soldier. Alive or deceased. Our families still love us and this must be respected by our politicians. Bring Adrian home, Paul must be given all the support that he needs to fulfil his promise to his late mother. Do not harbour up Paul until the Government responds positively, to your requests. As they did when they quite happily sent us out of country into operational areas.
Jim Stokes V4
I support Paul in his efforts to bring our boys home. I'm sure our Government will agree to funding this. This is their moral obligation to the memory of these soldiers who served their Country and made the ultimate sacrifice. 'May they Rest in Peace' Christina Wikaira ex Nurse Q.A.R.A.N.C. B.M.H. Singapore.
Jock Wikaira's widow V4
On Sunday 16th August 2015, Paul Thomas, Bob Derwin, Andy Peters and Geoff Dixon (V4), along with many other veterans, paraded for Vietnam Veteran’s Day at The Manukau Memorial Gardens.
Also there was Judith Collins, the National MP for Papakura, who attends this parade every year and who was the former Minister of Veterans' Affairs..
The guest speaker was Bob Davies (V3) who spoke at length of The Forgotten Fallen.
His speech is as follows;
Labour, RSA back push to repatriate soldiers' bodies from Malaysia | ONE News Now | TVNZ, 18 October 2015.
See the link below:
TV3 News, 6pm Monday 28th September 2015.
This is the funeral of the widow of Sergeant Alistair Don, Royal New Zealand Artillery who was the first New Zealand Soldier Killed in Action in Vietnam in 1965.
He is buried at Terendak Garrison, Malaysia. His whanau want him brought home to rest with his loved one.
Note: Article commences at 8:48 minutes into the news bulletin.
A TV3 crew filmed part of the event, thus completing the filming that was done up North with Paul and Marina Hapeta,
a widow of one of the Forgotten Fallen.
Craig Foss, The Minister of Veteran’s Affairs would not appear on the programme.
To view this programme, click on the link below;
Just watched the TV3 coverage and thought they did an excellent job promoting the project. I really feel for those family members who have not had the experience of visiting their boys at rest. I'm fortunate in having visited Terendak Cemetery 3 times and it is increasingly harder and harder to organise access. Bringing the boys home now makes more sense than ever.
It's like travelling to Fort Knox. You want to see the gold inside but you're not able to get access
Wayne Williams, brother of Jack Williams,V4, who was Killed in Action in Vietnam and is buried at Terendak
The following link is an interview between Paul Thomas and Hon Phil Goff on Maori TV on Fri 23rd Oct.
Phil Goff has made an application for an inquiry to be conducted by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence into why the current government will not repatriate and also allow the voices of next of kin to be heard.
Hopefully, this can take place before any more widows pass on, as most of the remaining widows are now in their mid to late eighties and beyond.
To view, click on the Link, then onto Te KAEA Friday 23 October 2015. The interview is 5 minutes and 48 seconds into the programme.
In Parliament on the 15th October 2015, Hon Phil Goff asked questions to the Minister of Veterans' Affairs Craig Foss.
To view the video click on the link below;
Question 7: Hon Phil Goff to the Minister of Veterans' Affairs
The small town of Eketahuna brought their Fallen son home, 21 November 2015.
See the link below where a NZ town banded together to bring son home.
After World War One, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was formed to establish an appropriate way to discharge the debt of honour each country owed to its Fallen. By the end of World War Two and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s mandate, 1.7 million Fallen were commemorated in 23,000 cemeteries and memorials across 157 countries. Those who have had the privilege to visit any of these sites cannot but be overawed, not just by the scale of the casualties – for there is surely that, but by the overwhelming dignity and solemnity of the environment that enfolds the earthly remains of those who sacrificed all so that the rest of us may have a future. While nothing can compensate for such sacrifice, at least their remains are protected in perpetuity as they lay alongside their comrades in peace. They are our Glorious Dead.
Since New Zealand first sent troops overseas in 1899 to assist the British Empire in its fight against the South African Boers we have lost 28,923 servicemen and women who were Killed in action, died of wounds or who died as a result of illness or accident due to their operational service; service, I shouldn’t need to remind you, which was in pursuit of the government of the day’s international priorities. It is very difficult to get one’s head around such a statistic so let me help you. If we laid each of the 28,923 Fallen head to foot beginning at the Bombay BP Station on State Highway 1 they would extend to somewhere around the Northcote off-ramp on the other side of the harbour bridge. I’ll just let you ponder that for a moment.
Almost, but not quite at the end of that line, you’ll find 32 men, they are our Forgotten Fallen. These are men who were killed since World War Two. They served in South East Asia, in Malaya and in Vietnam. No longer under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, some of these lie in obscure cemeteries or in graves that are very difficult to access. And because they are not subject to the same rules as those who lie in a Commonwealth War Grave their resting places are not protected. And they lie there because their families could not afford to have their bodies returned to New Zealand. If you visit the National War Memorial at Pukeahu, the Army Memorial Museum in Waiouru, or the Auckland War Memorial Museum, their sacrifice is acknowledged alongside the rest of our Fallen, except in their case their resting place is not so glorious. Their next of kin have grieved no less than any other of the families from other conflicts but to these families their treatment demonstrates that the country considers theirs’ to be of a lesser sacrifice as, unlike their forefathers and their sons, successive governments have failed to discharge the debt of honour that the country owes to them.
LEST WE FORGET
For some years now, there have been efforts to have these men returned to New Zealand but without success. The Minister of Veteran’s Affairs just in May this year stated the Government had no intention to change its policy and repatriate these forgotten Fallen, this during the 100th commemorative year and despite a cabinet paper that concedes the unfairness of their treatment. He also gave a further reason that historically soldiers were buried where they fell. Clearly he is misinformed as none of the Fallen lie in Vietnam – and more tellingly – nor do they lie in East Timor, Iraq or in Afghanistan.
LEST WE FORGET
With an ironic - and questionable – sense of timing, the Prime Minister decided this was the year to run a campaign to change the flag, the flag under which these men fell. Whether this is a good idea or not is not only irrelevant but extraordinarily insensitive and thoughtless if most returned servicemen, those we are supposedly commemorating this year and next, object to it as the RSA informs us they do.
The 2007 cabinet paper estimated the cost of repatriation of the 32 South East Asian Forgotten Fallen to be considerably less than $500k. That may have increased somewhat in the years since but whatever it’s cost today, it will be miniscule in comparison to the many millions being dedicated to changing the flag.
LEST WE FORGET
The Prime Minister has made much recently of the importance of New Zealand contributing to ‘The Club’ when once again the Government has sent our young men and women in harms way to demonstrate our solidarity with it. On 20 May this year our closest ally in ‘The Club’, Australia, announced in Parliament that they were repatriating their war dead from Malaysia. Can we expect the New Zealand Government to again show solidarity by similarly repatriating our Forgotten Fallen? Apparently not.
LEST WE FORGET
Fellow Vietnam veterans join me today in challenging this Government to return our Forgotten Fallen to the bosom of the country for which they have sacrificed all and before the flag is changed. Let this Government, the National Government, the Government that sent us off to our war and that has ignored us since, now finally make amends.
LEST WE FORGET
The following article appeared in The SundayStar Times on the 18th October 2015. It follows the Parliamentary video and more comments between Phil Goff and Judith Collins as in the previous link above on the 24th May 2015.
To view the newspaper article, click on the link below;
Phil Goff v Judith Collins: Response to veterans’ families arrogant, unreasonable
Maori Party Media Release, 12 November 2015.
From the desk of Rangimarie Naida Glavish, ONZM, President.
Call to bring back Maori soldiers buried in Malaysia
An appeal to reconsider repatriation of the remains at least of New Zealand Maori soldiers buried in Malaysia, has been made by the president of the Maori Party, Rangimarie Naida Glavish. This follows Veterans Affairs Minister Craig Foss saying earlier this year: “Successive governments have maintained a policy of not repatriating the remains of military personnel who died serving overseas between January1 1948 and mid-1970. At this stage there are no plans to review that policy.”
Ms Glavish said that failure to heed calls for repatriation were deeply disappointing to whanau of fallen Maori servicemen. “It may be difficult for non-Maori to understand and appreciate, but for our people there is a keen and intense spiritual connection between the tupapaku (remains) of our dead and those of us who are left behind. It is why we invariably return our dead for burial in their home urupa (cemeteries) and why we place so much emphasis on the ceremony of unveiling headstones on the first anniversary of burial.
“Maori attachment to our land, and particularly our personal turangawaewae, is surely well known, and is something that endures beyond this life. We take not just comfort, but inspiration and strength from having our dead close to us. For us to be able to stand at their graves gives us a deep feeling of connectedness with their spirits from whom we still hear messages of encouragement and advice.
“We don’t expect non-Maori to share this wairua of ours, but we would hope that they would appreciate its significance to us. It is in that spirit that I make this personal appeal to the Prime Minister and his government to reconsider the heartfelt calls from whanau for the repatriation of the remains of those of our Maori men who fell in wars South East Asia after January 1948.
“Where they lie, so near and yet so far away, they are alone and isolated. They are not like the fallen on World Wars I and II who lie with their comrades in sections of Commonwealth War Graves sites that have become little pieces of Aotearoa. The fallen of Malaysia are a special case, and deserve special consideration,” concluded Ms Glavish.
Ron Mark and Phil Goff holding the Government to account, 20 November 2015.
See the link below where Ron and Phil Goff questioning the government about repatriating our Forgotten Fallen.
19.11.15 - Question 3 - Ron Mark to the Prime Minister
From Allan (Wally) Wallbutton V4, as reported in the Wanganui Chronicle dated 31 August 2015.
Wally has approached his local Member of Parliament with no results to date.
Repatriation of New Zealand personnel from Malaysia - 13/05/16
This remit requests that the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RNZRSA) write to the New Zealand Government supporting the request from next of kin (NOK) to repatriate the bodies of 31 soldiers from the Malay Emergency and Vietnam war who lie in three non-Commonwealth War Grave (CWWG) cemeteries in Malaysia, specifically: the Christian Cemetery in Taiping, the Cheras Road Christian Cemetery in Kuala Lumpur and the Terendak Military Camp Cemetery in Malacca.
Crucially, because these 31 soldiers do not lie in CWWG cemeteries their graves are unprotected. In addition, each of the cemeteries have issues specific to that site. In the case of Taiping, the 7 graves lie in an unkempt, rubbish-strewn cemetery unfit for our war dead. In Kuala Lumpur, urban development by way of pillars that support an overhead rail system and new roading are encroaching on the 8 graves that are becoming and will only get worse; and in Terendak Camp, because it is the home of units of the Malaysian Army, access is problematic and requires diplomatic clearance to access the 16 graves that lie there. Furthermore, the Australians are removing their war dead from this cemetery further detracting from its suitability.
We further request that the RNZRSA actively leads a campaign to ensure that the wishes of the NOK are met.
This project has been actively pursued by a small number of veterans. Our resources, profile and ability to influence Government is limited. It has also taken a toll on our limited personal finances. We are now asking the RNZRSA membership to show their support by taking a lead role in supporting this cause.
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