Saturday, October 3, 2015


Over the last little while I have been inundated with e-mails and phone calls from the veteran community (and beyond) asking me if I was aware of the canard being promoted with the Waitangi Tribunal agreeing to hear the claim Wai 2500 the 'Military Veterans kaupapa inquiry'.  

I was not  ... I am now; the 'claim' has to be outed for the canard it is and the nonsense stopped.

Wai 2500 morphed out of the initial claim by the late Primate of New Zealand, the Most Rev Wakahuihui Vercoe, himself a Vietnam veteran, that the Maori Vietnam veteran community had outstanding grievances that needed to be addressed.    Wai 2500 extends that to cover all Maori veterans and argues that the NZ Government has failed to meet it's Treaty obligations by not recognising the unique nature of the service rendered by Maori as Maori.   At least one of the claimants is seeking an across the board payment of $30,000 to each and every Maori ex-serviceman and and ex-servicewoman as compensation.    This is wrong.

I have accessed a number of the documents relating to the claim.    They are full of myths and legend and, like many war stories told and retold over a pint of beer, they have grown with every telling.

Take for example the statement in the original claim that two thirds of those who served in Vietnam were Maori. Total myth.   To the best of my knowledge the NZDF did not at that time categorize servicemen/women by race (they may to now, nothing surprises me).   But a cursory look at the 'Flinkenburg List' (the nominal roll of those who served in Vietnam) would suggest the figure is wrong and this is born out when I look at my own command.    It comprised a mix of Pakeha, Maori, Aussies and Poms.   Two out of my seven NCOs were Maori as were three of my private soldiers.   That works out at 15%.     Some commands would have had a higher percentage of Maori and some lower but two thirds, never ... and, in the final analysis, so what?   We served as soldiers.   We shared the same danger, we ate the same food, were exposed to the same Agent Orange, we laughed together, we cried together, our blood shed was was not Maori or Pakeha blood ... it was A pos or O neg or whatever.

The claims continue.   The fact that a Maori family could not conceive is hardly the fault of government.   It happens to both Maori and Pakeha regardless of whether they served or not.    The list goes on.   The assertions continue.   They do not stand objective analysis.   It's as if every misfortune that has ever visited on the claimants can be directly attributed to their military service.

The claimants conveniently ignore the generous (by NZL standards) benefits available to them as veterans as compensation for service related injuries to both the body and mind.   That can include a non-means tested and non-taxable War Disability Pension of up to $20,011 per annum, inflation adjusted and payable for life in addition to any other pension or benefit entitlements they might have.    Veterans can access free medical care for any accepted service related condition.   They may be entitled to receive unlimited travel reimbursement (at 27.1c per km) for recreational travel more than 80k from their home residence.    When they die their spouse may be entitled to an additional pension in their own right amounting to $8,387 p.a.   This list is not exhaustive. You can access the full detail on the Veterans' Affairs website.   

Of course the level and scope of assistance available can always be improved but I would suggest that the public at large would look at the total package of benefits available and see it as fair and reasonable (and arguably generous) in the New Zealand context. 

But my real concern is twofold.    The first is that it drives a wedge between Pakeha and Maori veterans.     For better or worse we are a family.    In the Vietnam veteran community we look after each other.    Help is given on the basis of service and not on the colour of skin.   

But more importantly, the claim gives false hope (of the John Frum Cargo Cult variety) to our more vulnerable veterans that 'manna' is about to tumble down from above.   The reality is that no matter the Waitangi Tribunal 'recommendation' (and I accept the Tribunal is capable of anything), no Government is going to accept a recommendation that gives Maori veterans additional support over and above that available to their non-Maori colleagues.  To do so would be electoral suicide.   Hopes will be dashed, tears will be shed and our vulnerable veterans will be the losers per courtesy of a Tribunal that has exceeded its mandate.

One of the claimants (accompanied by counsel riding high on the Waitangi Tribunal lawyer gravy train) made his pitch to a meeting of veterans at the Papanui RSA recently.   I am encouraged by the reaction of a respected Maori veteran who posted .... 

"After listening to the presentation and comments from the floor, it is my opinion that this is an ill conceived plan that will not hold up under any sound challenge.   I have made my views clear to this meeting, and would suggest that anyone thinking that this is a worthwhile enterprise should think long and hard before putting their name to this exercise, and in retaining their personal Mana.   Views expressed here are mine, if you don't like the content or tone, I make no apology".

Well said Sir.



Noel said...

27.1 cents per km.
Not for recretional travel.
And its less than civilian recompense for medical travel appointment costs.

In 2006 the mantra amongst some veterans was they should recieve more than,amended by Palmers Commission that they shouldn't receive less than their civilian counterparts.

Irony is now that all veterans, no longer restricted to those with war disabilities, can claim under the VP automatic CSC to the National Travel Tust for travel for conditions not attributtable to service at a higher rate than those with previously recognised service related conditions.

So much for the new mantra.

The Veteran said...

Noel .. get your facts right. The Travel Concession reimbursement rate paid to veterans assessed at the WDP 100% level or higher is 27.1c/km ... and its for recreational travel only. It covers airfares/bus travel and/or private car. Of course it's less than the rate paid for medical travel which is based on the IRD formula which includes the total cost of running a car.

Point me to where a civilian is reimbursed by the taxpayer for his/her recreational travel.

And your stance of the point of the post?

Noel said...

Me get my facts right?

Geez I often thought during the MoU negotiations that your ilk were ill informed but not to this degree.

It wasn't called the Recreational Travel Concession prior to the Act changes.
There was a Travel Allowance to cover medical appointments etc at 27.1 kms and what is now the RTC for those over 100%. That allowance required a reimbursement of petrol and meal cost if by road, never kms, which was a pain for VANZ to administer and has now been off set by an affidavit from the veteran that they spent the cap of $200.

Don't be lazy fish for the km civilian rate medical Travel Allowance yourself.

The Veteran said...

Noel ... crap. Clearly you are confused. There has always been a recreational travel reimbursement for severely disabled veterans in addition to the medical travel reimbursement. Up until 2009/10, the country was divided into zones with the veteran having to cross from one zone into another before he/she was eligible to claim. Take the West Coast for example. That was a single zone albeit 500k north to south so a veteran travelling anywhere on the 'Coast' could not claim. Same for a veteran up my way travelling from say Kaitaia to Whangarei (154k). As the northern zone boundary was set at Wellsford he/she could not claim. All that changed with Judith Collins as Minister. She did away with the zonal boundaries and made it so that any eligible veteran travelling more than 80k away from home could claim based on a formula developed using AA modelling. A little while back the rate was upped to the present 27.1c/km.

This is entirely different to the medical travel reimbursement payment based on the IRD formulae.

I was never part of the MoU negotiating team but I am reasonably well informed ... unlike some.

Noel said...

OK..... am I confused over the difference between the other VANZ travel allowance at 27.1km and the Ministry of Health rate been higher which my original comment highlighted.

Chris Bird said...

Is it not correct that any soldier who went to Vietnam was a volunteer, and none were forced to go?
If that is the case then why are these people claiming what they are? How are they different to any other race who served there?
I wanted to join the army in the late 60s from school but my father wouldn't let me, so joined up later.

Anonymous said...

A little bit disingenuous Veteran. You have been aware of the murmurings of discontent for several months and the fact that it is flying under the radar . This travesty needed the spotlight shone on it from it's conception. The percentage of Maori who served is about 33% (Ian Macgibbon. War historian).

The percentage does matter as Maori males have a mortality rate over twice that of Pakeha and contract cancers, diabetes etc. at a much faster rate. If you then use the the general population tables instead of the ethnic tables to calculate the veterans mortality rate it seems that veterans are dying at a faster rate when in fact they have a slightly better mortality rate than non veterans of the same age group. The General population tables were used knowing that the result would elicit public sympathy.

Cause and effect, manufacturing an effect to justify a cause.

Shelldrake said...


What do you actually want. Have you read the Wai 2500 submission. It is a turgid rant that simply does not reflect the camera derive that we all shared in our service. It is sad and I only hope that is shown for what it is. I agree with the Vet. This is not what the Waitangi Tribunal was setup for. By the way try reading ingredients in detail all of the material on the VANZ site about travel allowances. You seem to have a real burr under your blanket on this

Noel said...

Ahh I was making the point that it appears their is difference in the km rate between vanz and MoH. Yes or No?
Which now that the VP is available to every veteran regardless of disability status don't you think its ironic if there are two classes of reimbursment?

As for the claim I'm Pakeha so any outcome would not impact on me.

Noel said...

Sorry bit slow this morning. Camera derive threw me off.
My understanding, correct me if wrong some Veterans were unhappy with the outcome of the MoU. Unstandable as reflected in the DIA analysis identifying what was important to the negotiators was necessarily reflected by the rank and file.
Given the MoU was negotiated with the Government of the day it set no precident for any further negotiation.

Put another way if a Veteran today could present scientific evidence that his childrens condition are at the same level as those currently on the NAS matrix, not the politically elevated level of the MOU he has no avenue to have his case heard.

Noel said...

After "was" insert "not"

Shelldrake said...

What do you mean by the,

"Politically elevated level of the MOU"? What is the level?

Noel said...

Err for a Veterans to receive an ex gratia payment his conditions had to be at a particular level of evidence on the NAS matrix.
Accepted children's conditions were below that level suggesting they were elevated for the purpose of the MoU.

Regardless any future conditions will not automatically be eligible for an ex gratia payments because no precedence was set.

The Veteran said...

Noel ... thank you for admitting you got it wrong with the travel concession payment. As to ypur comment "Given the MOU was negotiated with the government of the day it set no precedent for any further negotiation" ... have no idea what you mean by this. What was agreed back then can always be enhanced.

Take for example the free one-off medical check provided for in the docu. Following the change of government this was changed to a free annual medical check. Cost was then assessed as $2m p.a. It continues to amaze me that less than 50% of Vvets avail themselves of this.

Anyway, this is a side issue away from the substance of my post. I have recd per courtesy of the back of a truck a document setting out the Statement of Issues the Waitangi Tribunal is to address. It is mind boggling ... take for example this pearler:

1.1(a) Does tino rangitiratanga require an obligation on the crown to engage with Maori in a meaningful way before agreeing to participate in a war.

or this

2.3(d) Was there inherent or explicit discrimination in the ability of Maori to become officers in the army ... (forgetting of course Uncle Po and our present GG)

or even this dooosey

3.21 Are Maori who are not veterans (e.g. nurses and paramediacal staff) or who have not been employed in the Crowns military be entitled to the same benefits and outcomes as members of Ngati Tumatauenga (read service personnel) and their whanau and hapu.

This is crazy stuff. The Waitangi Tribunal is its own master but please, please, let sanity prevail.
This has the ability to do real damage to Maoridom. Pakeha New Zealand can be forgiven for wanting the Tribunal disbanded.

The Veteran said...

Chuck ... you are correct that all those who served in Vietnam were volunteers in the sense they volunteered to join the army or whatever. But that in itself is no determinate of how they should be treated.

Anon 8.50 pm ... Macgibbin sez 33%. Educated guess perhaps but still a guess. But in the end so what ... yes, the Maori male mortality rate is greater than that for the Pakeha male. But to take that line of argument to a logical conclusion you would need to advocate the age of entitlement for say NZ Super should be less for Maori than for Pakeha. And that's an argument going nowhere.

Noel said...

Social Services Committee
February 2014
"Assistance for children of Vietnam veterans was further extended in 2006
when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the New Zealand
Government and Vietnam veterans was signed. The MOU provided for ex gratia
payments of up to $30,000 to children of Vietnam veterans who suffered from one of
five accepted conditions. Both of these decisions were made by the Government of
the day and did not set a precedent for the entitlements to be extended at any time in
the future"

The Veteran said...

Noel ... this is not what this thread is all about. Govts change decisions made by previous Govts all the time and as they think fit. I have pointed you to one already - medical checks. The Medical Advisory Board set up under the Veterans' Support Act is empowered to make further recommendations to Govt and no doubt they will.

Can we please at this time confine ourselves to the subject of the post.

Noel said... did ask me.

Anonymous said...

RE: Ian Macgibbon. Not a guess, he has the pay sheets. mail him if you require an explanation.

Bottom line is that regardless of what politicians like Sue Kedgley and Rodney Hide decided on the day none of the 4 million combat soldiers has ever been found with more than a normal Dioxin blood serum level of around 3 to 6ppt. Unlike the gorse sprayers of Canterbury who were at levels approaching 40ppt. They are all fine by the way.

You ask us to keep to the thread. The thread being WAI 2500 and Maori military grievances. We are reaping what we have sown, all this stems from the select committee hearing where a lot of people lied their heads of in order get what they thought would be a compensation package. Maori are doing no more than what Pakeha did in 2005 only with considerable less finesse. The grievance should be that Maori health and stats were buried and used as bargaining chip across the ethnic divide to the benefit of mainly Pakeha.

The Veteran said...

Anon 8.32 ... more crap. Since when did pay sheets describe ethnicity? Never in my experience.

Wai2500 is about ALL those who have ever served ... from the Maori wars thru to the present. Forget the Vvet stuff if that's pulling your chain. Put it to one side. But I do object to the lying bit. Seems to me you are a bit like the boy who said to his Mum ... look, Dads the only one in step.

Here's another doosey ...

3.26 What Treaty obligations does the Crown have to implement the Geneva Convention of 1929.

Small problem ... The 1929 Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War was replaced by the third Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 (Geneva Convention III). It is no longer in operation following the universal acceptance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Slightly bigger problem. The Hague convention relates to the treatment of prisoners of war by the capturing power. Wasn't aware that the Crown held too many Maori prisoners of war.

Anonymous said...

"More Crap" by implication that means everything that has been said or claimed is crap. Not the the most erudite line of defence I have heard but never mind.
My suggestion that you Mail Mr Macgibbon has fallen on deaf ears so if I could respectfully point out that in spite of around 15% of enlisted Maori adopting Anglo Saxon names they almost without exception kept their Maori middle name.

So far you failed to mention the claims of being "expendable" carrying heavy weights, denied promotion, poisoned by personal anti mossie spray etc etc made to lead when things got hairy, "drenched" in Agent Orange all the rest of the nonsenses that a fertile mind set on a grievance course can imagine. Object as much as you like lying to select committee is easy peasy 'cos there is no sanction put in place should you do so. Would you like some examples?

Anonymous said...

He did have the "Masters Map"? LOL

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


Time you got yourself a white flag.

Noel said...

" We are reaping what we have sown, all this stems from the select committee hearing..."

The precursor to the Select Committee was a perception that the angry e mails Vietnam Veterans were sending to Dr Mcleod could taint all. Not the actual words, my telephone conversation tapes are in storage elsewhere but a reasonable facsimile.

Perhaps there is a bit of that in the current outburst?

The Veteran said...

Anon 12.27 you say Macgibbin said 33%. My command was 15%. In the end so what. All I was doing was pointing out that the figure in the original claim was 66% and that was a load of tosh. As to the fertile mind bit and yes, it appears that's very much in play and, as I said, many of the assertions appear nothing more stories that have grown in the telling.

If people lied to the Select Cttee then they will have to live with that. But you would be treading on dangerous ground to suggest that all the evidence was tainted. The dynamics at play in the Select Cttee meant that essentially their report was a balanced one.

But again, that is a red herring. This 'Inquiry' is flawed from the start. It pits Maori servicemen against their Pakeha colleagues and raises expectations when there can be no expectations.

The work of the WT is drawing to a close ... it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this falls into the 'make-work' category by a Tribunal seeking to prolong its life aided and abetted by elements in the legal fraternity who see their source of income under threat.

p.s. Rodney Hyde was never part of the Select Cttee Inquiry. The ACT Party was represented by Heather Roy.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


Don't bother with the white flag. Just go out the back and shoot yourself.

Anonymous said...

Quite right, I was confusing Hide with Chadwick. The problem of a woman having a masculine name. There is a bit of confusion with Anon's here. Anon 8.44 is not me although he does raise a valid point.

The percentage of Maori is, as I pointed out, most important. It skews the veterans health when the general population mortality rates are used instead of the ethnic mortality tables.

Many thanks to Adolf, I don't really know what we would do without his erudite contributions.

Just as a passing thought. 5 out of the 6 select committee witnesses who claimed to be "sprayed" by multiple aircraft did not arrive in Vietnam until after the defoliation missions had stopped, sometimes two years later. If that's not lying what is?. These people were driven by the same motivation as Maori are now. A compensation package.

Shelldrake said...

Good comment Anon @9.14. You are right about the people who claimed exposure who arrived years after spraying ended.

Also there was no spraying at Vung Tau.

Noel said...

"5 out 6 claimed to have been sprayed"

That's the sad part. The Australian Army/Peck/Sinclair report that lay in the Defence files since 1982 could have allayed their fears.

Mind you it wouldn't have helped me and my Aussie mate understand what those aircraft were up to. In 1969 you had to go out the TAOR to be exposed.

The Veteran said...

Anon 9.14 ... exactly my point. 'War' stories grow in the telling. Myths abound. Rather than lying I suspect some of the witnesses to the Select Cttee Inquiry were genuinely mistaken regarding their exposure to AO (I can point you to a colleague up here who is totally convinced that he was sprayed with AO by a 'swing-fog' machine doing the rounds in the lines at Nui Dat and nothing we can say or do will ever change his mind on that) but, even so, it is impossible to dismiss the totality of the evidence. Those who served in the Task Force at least were exposed to a toxic environment. The latency of AO is proven. End of story.

But again, we should not get sidetracked ... the WT Inquiry covers ALL conflicts and the stupid questions being poised are an insult to the intelligence including the assertion made in comments above that Maori servicemen were 'expendable'. That is a contemptable and shows the extent that purveyors of the John Frum cargo cult mentality will go to in attempting to leverage dosh from the taxpayer.

This thread has probably run its course and can I thank you all for your various contributions. My phone continues to run hot. I am heartened the story is being picked up by other commentators and, if it leads to a re-examination of the role and function of the WT, then I will be well satisfied.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


I was suggesting (too subtly, it seems) that as a military expert who is facing certain defeat, you might take the examples of two exemplary German officers, Kapitan Hans Langsdorff and Field Marshall Walter Model.

Anonymous said...

There is no chemical compound known as Agent Orange. What you are referring to is Dioxin or TCDD of which the latency (Abeyance or unseen effect) on humans with detectable amounts in their body is well proven. It has proven not exist in every epidemiological study ever done. Even the 1200 aircrew with very high readings who flew the planes proved that over a period of thirty years they had the same cancer rate and
live birth defects as males of the same age group.

The chemical mix known as Agent Orange was designed by Imperial chemical Industries (ICI) as a Broadleaf systemic herbicide (Trioxene) and used in the Malayan emergency as a strategic defoliant by the British army. It has been used by every country in the Western world.
You cannot say the Waitangi claimants are telling porkies on one issue then turn around and say except for being drenched with a toxic spray. Quite simply the number of birth defects and mortality of veterans is exactly the same as non veterans.

Adolf, sorry. You are to deep for me.

The Veteran said...

Anon 11.41 ... Pleased authenticate your claim it was used in Malaya ... not in my experience. As to your rather pedantic comment re AO and of course you are right but that was the common term and you know that. I have never claimed that our troops were drenched with AO. I don't think they were ... but some do think that ... another myth.

Your comment about birth defects and mortality was clearly taken from the Third Australian Vietnam Veterans Mortality Study and is correct. Again, another myth.

The WT 'investigation' is a make-work scheme focusing on myths.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anon 2.07

I have some experience in the agrochem industry = specifically herbicides..

You are wrong. So called 'agent orange' was designed and manufactured by Dow Corp of the U>S>, not ICI.

Judging from the photos I have seen of Areas in Vietnam, some years after they were sprayed, this brew was much more potent than any mere broadleaf defoliant. Nor was it simply mixture of 24D and 245T as alleged by many.

The only reference I can find to your 'trioxine' is that of an anti=aging compound used in cosmetics.

Noel said...

Agent Orange was a military spec herbicide.
It was not registered in Canada nor New Zealand and this was a factor in those countries using ex grati payments instead of Compensation to settle the issue. Without any causal connection to any condition other than Chloracne.
VANZ difficulty with a lack of consensus amongst clinicians on Chloracne forced them to appropriate the unexpected extra exgratia payments from the non uplifted Annual medical checks for conditions associated with service. Just as well veterans didn't get what they wanted.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


Pray tell, in what way does a 'military spec' herbicide differ from a 'civilian spec' herbicide?

Noel said...

I probably identified it in" Observing Agent Orange" or "At a price Agent Orange production in NZ"

Anonymous said...

That's because your research is superficial Noel. Google Trioxene Malaya and look at the first six hits. No such thing as a military spec herbicide. The procurement records of MAC-V are on line if care to look also the Dioxin content is available if you want to look for it.

Last year I wrote to Wikipedia asking them to explain why their Trioxene site and Agent Orange site differed in tone and content when they were dealing with exactly the same product. Look at Agent orange and see what I mean, hell has visited earth, whereas Trioxene was informative and educational.

The Trioxene site now appears to have been removed. If anyone should find it under another heading please inform the blog.

Please don't repeat nonsense about Mil spec etc. without doing your research

Anonymous said...

Still cant find it but this should put Noels mind at rest

Plenty more if you want to look at ICI's old product list.
Adolf. The areas still visible are those cleared by the Land Barons US and Aussie engineers. Go into a few sites and look at the incredible land mass cleared, up to sixty hectares a day.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anon 9.42

I hope you are not stupid enough to believe that tropical vegetation does not grow back over land cleared five years earlier?

I'm talking about areas that were sprayed with what ever agent orangee was (and it was ten times more potent than 245T and 24D) and which were still bare five years later.

In the agrochem industry in the 70s we would have given our eye teeth for a herbicide which would do that. We would have made a fortune selling it to the state rail systems, Main Rods Depts, Public Works Depts, State Energy Commissions and DCA, just to name a few.

Anonymous said...

Just another conspiracy theory. In 1976 the Vietnamese cleared huge blocks of rubber that had reached the end of it's economic life (14 years) some of it mad been standing 20 years without any replanting. The enterprising Viets took non aligned journalists up in planes to show the destruction that AO had wrought on the country. Fortunately one of the Danes had been been brought up in Malaya and recognised it for what it was.

I have been over sprayed areas using the Herbs Tapes and Google earth and found nothing to support our contention.

If you are going to make sweeping statements at least have the courtesy of more info other than your fevered imagination. A map ref. will do. Otherwise I'm finished here.

Ross Himona said...

I'm off to talk to one of the claimant lawyers tomorrow. Don't know what they want but it will be intertesting.

Re percentage of Maori. My platoon was about 56% Maori including the platoon commander, platoon sergeant, three section commanders and two of the three section 2ic's. That was probably one of the most Maori platoons, if not the most.

However once veterans return home and attend reunions there gradually takes hold a standard shared narrative that includes a growing body of mythology and the myths become reality. WW1, WW2, Borneo, Vietnam - all the same according to my Vietnam veteran oral historian mate in Australia. He's worked out ways to cut through all that in his interviews but it's hard work. The Maori percentage myth is just another of the many myths adopted by both Pakeha and Maori veterans.

Maori or Pakeha, doesn't matter. The myths are many and both ethnicities are succeptible. Memory is notoriously unreliable and memories are reconstructed by all of us to fit our own personal narratives, no matter how logical and rational we think we are. That's what the Tribunal is drawing out in this process.

Tribunal members are not nincompoops, in fact they are intellectually astute, and we should wait for their report before we judge them.

On the other hand perhaps the Tribunal is providing an outlet for long held grievance and maybe that's a good thing. Perhaps the pre-2008 consultations provided the same outlet for many of those who presented there.

There can be no doubt that the Government has provided enhanced remedy for veterans since the 2008 apology, and whatever the Tribunal's recomendations it is the Government that will act ot not act on those recommendations and provide extra remedy if it so decides. Who knows? Out of it may come some enhanced remedies for all veterans. That would be a positive outcome wouldn't it?

I think my contribution will be my feeling based on anecdotal evidence that Maori veterans are less likely than Pakeha veterans to engage with DVA and avail themselves of their entitlements. I will be recommending that funding be made available through DVA for a proactive networking project to locate ALL veterans and to bring them into the fold.

I told the late Bishop Vercoe when he agreed to front this claim that it would be more controversial than it seemed at the time, and so it has.

Let's wait and see.