In 2006, the Crown signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vietnam veterans and their families. The agreement included a trust to support veterans’ children, a national reunion, and official ‘welcome home’ parade named Tribute 08. It also included a four-year oral history and digital archiving project, and extended the eligibility for military personnel who served in the Vietnam War to be awarded medals in recognition of their service.

The key provision of the settlement package was a formal Crown apology to New Zealand Vietnam veterans for successive governments’ failure to address their concerns. This came from Prime Minister Helen Clark on 28 May 2008.

Extract from Crown Apology

Madame Speaker. I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 348, in relation to the Crown apology to Viet Nam veterans and their families.

The Crown extends to New Zealand Viet Nam Veterans and their families an apology for the manner in which their loyal service in the name of New Zealand was not recognised as it should have been, when it should have been, and for inadequate support extended to them and their families after their return home from the conflict.

The Crown is placing on record its respect for the service of the nearly 3,400 New Zealanders who served in Viet Nam during the war between June 1964 and December 1972. We honour the 37 personnel who died on active duty, the 187 who were wounded, some very seriously, and all those who have suffered long-term effects. The service of those who fell and all who served in that conflict should now be honoured, alongside that of other brave service personnel deployed to other conflicts in the service of our country.

Finally, there is the commitment to put things right, where government action is the appropriate means of achieving that resolution. The commitments the Crown has made to the treatment of Viet Nam veterans who were affected by toxic environments in Viet Nam and to their families are set out in the Memorandum of Understanding of 6 December 2006, and the Crown will adhere to them.

[Audience stands to sing 'How Great Thou Art' hymn]

Whakaaria mai
Tou ripeka ki au
Tiaho mai 
Ra roto i te po 
Hei kona au 
Titiro atu ai. 
Ora, mate, 
Hei au koe noho ai

Then sings my soul my savior God to Thee 
How great Thou art 
How great Thou art 
Then sings my soul my savior God to Thee 
How great Thou art how great Thou art.

Amine

Click here for the full Crown apology to Viet Nam veterans (beehive.govt.nz)

Reference: 

Video footage courtesy Ex-Vietnam Services Association (EVSA)

How to cite this page: 'Crown Apology to NZ Vietnam Veterans', URL: http://vietnamwar.govt.nz/video/crown-apology-nz-vietnam-veterans, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 4-Aug-2014