National | War Veterans

Māori war veterans seek compensation for post-war injustices

The second part of a Waitangi Tribunal hearing took place today at Takahiwai marae in Northland.

The Wai 2500 Military Veterans Kaupapa Inquiry focuses on the grievances of Māori military veterans and aims to investigate whether the Crown’s treatment of Māori veterans post-war was a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Esme Sherwin was at the hearing held inside the whare, with whānau, current personnel and veterans in attendance. She gave a presentation, highlighting the residual effects of the war for not only the veterans but their families also.

“We need change. We need them to acknowledge what they’ve done and we need them to move forward productively, providing and supporting all the people of New Zealand. For them it was hard to ask for help or to find understanding, and so it is for us,” Sherwin says.

The inquiry covers all arms of the New Zealand Defence Force, Ngāti Tūmatauenga (NZ Army), Te Taua Moana o Aotearoa (Royal New Zealand Navy) and Te Tauaarangi o Aotearoa (Royal New Zealand Air Force). The aim is to ensure they and current serving personnel are supported as the Treaty intended.

Veteran Rihari Dargaville says the effects of war are not only felt spiritually but physical scars remain too - reaffirming that Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the US military in the Vietnam War, remains an issue for him and his family.

“I still feel the effects of Agent Orange to this day, and so do my descendants.”

The Wai 2500 Military Veterans Kaupapa Inquiry focuses on grievances and claims of Māori military veterans. Historians have recorded that few Māori veterans from World War II acquired farms under settlement schemes administered by the Lands and Survey Department. And, in the North, Māori men were banned from buying alcohol.

More than 109 claims and eight interested parties were approved for inquiry.