New Zealand offers to repatriate servicemen buried abroad

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The New Zealand government announced today that it will provide families with the option of repatriating the remains of their loved ones buried in Malaysia and Singapore as a result of a military burial.

FILE PHOTO CAPTION: ADF personnel from Australia’s Federation Guard carry the coffins of Australian service personnel and dependants during a repatriation ceremony at RAAF Base Richmond in June 2016 (story here). New Zealand is embarking on a similar repatriation of its servicemen buried overseas.

Repatriation will be at public expense.

The New Zealand Defence Force will manage the repatriation project with support from other agencies as required.

NZDF will also explore the option of extending the offer of the repatriation to cover other New Zealanders buried overseas as a result of a military burial since 1 January 1955.

The priority now is for the families of those who died and were interred in those countries to register their contact details with the NZDF Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, Vice Chief of Defence Force, said. 

“The decision whether or not to repatriate lies with the families and we want to make sure we have their correct details before we begin the consultation process.

“For some families the decision will be difficult and there may be differing views within the family.

“We will support all families as they work through the options of repatriation,” Air Vice-Marshal Short said. 

The NZDF will establish a project team in mid-2017 to begin scoping and planning the repatriation.

Consultation with families will be an integral part of the process.

“The scoping and detailed planning of the repatriation will take time but we must get this right to properly honour and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of our military personnel and their families,” Air Vice-Marshal Short said.

“We must also respectfully engage with our partner countries and militaries which have cared for the graves of these service personnel and their dependants for many years.”

NZDF will also seek professional advice and expertise regarding all stages of the repatriation.

Families are encouraged to register their contact details with the New Zealand Defence Force by calling Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand on 0800 483 8372 or emailing repatriation@nzdf.mil.nz

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