Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


50 year Anzac Day anniversary for NZ medics in Vietnam

Media release

23 April 2013


50 year Anzac Day anniversary for NZ medics in Vietnam

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Viet Nam Health Trust are marking the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand surgical team’s arrival in South Vietnam to treat civilian casualties of war-related accident and injury.

Anzac Day this year heralds half a century since inaugural team leader Dr Michael Shackleton’s 1963 arrival in the Binh Dinh province, the geographic hub for New Zealand’s civilian - and later military - medical support for the region’s citizens over more than a decade.

A six-strong civilian medical team was part of New Zealand’s initial assistance programme to Vietnam. In 1966 the Quy Nhon-based team grew to 14 – comprising three surgeons, a physician, an anaesthetist, an administrator, a laboratory technician, six nurses and a maintenance officer.

Ministry historian Claire Hall says this anniversary is a chance to commemorate the little-known history and legacy of New Zealand’s support for civilians affected by the US-led military intervention in Vietnam.

“The civilian surgical team’s 12 years in South Vietnam bookends New Zealand’s involvement in the war,” Claire Hall says.

“Dr Shackleton broke important ground when he set up home and hospital for the team in Qui Nhon, an impoverished provincial town 300km north of Saigon. With wife Annabel and their five young children in tow, he brokered difficult relationships to obtain the equipment his team needed – and win the trust of locals. Thanks to his efforts, surgical team stalwarts stayed in Vietnam beyond the withdrawal of combat troops in December 1972, and were among the last out when Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces in 1975.”

That legacy of compassion continues today in Quy Nhon through the work of the NZ Viet Nam Health Trust (NZVHT), a group founded by military and civilian medics working in Binh Dinh during the war.

Trust Vice chair and surgical team member in 1972 and 1974 Dr David Morris, is delighted his predecessor’s pioneering efforts are being formally acknowledged.

“It’s fitting that this year, for the first time, Dr Michael Shackleton and his family will stand alongside other veterans of the Vietnam War at Anzac Day celebrations in Wellington,” Dr Morris says.

Civilian surgical team members, and Red Cross nursing staff who worked in Vietnam, will also be included in future war-related commemorations, including Vietnam Day on August 18.

“While recognition was the last thing on our minds at the time – we knew that the situation in Vietnam was desperate and we had to help – it’s gratifying to see the medical team’s story assuming its rightful place in history alongside the more dominant narratives of military involvement.”

Since the mid-1990s, Dr Morris has been part of an effort to re-establish the close bonds formed in wartime between Vietnamese civilians and Kiwi medics, and reinvigorate health promotion efforts in Binh Dinh.

This work is now being supported by a new generation of medics – former anti-war protestors amongst them. One such is NZVHT chair and Rotorua paediatrician Johan Morreau.

“Like the Vietnam War itself, this anniversary will mean different things to different people. I’m conscious that different generations have had differing experiences of Vietnam, and that we’ve all become involved with the Trust for a range of reasons. ” Dr Morreau says.

“For those of us carrying on the medical aid and health promotion work initiated in wartime, this anniversary marks the genesis of a close relationship which endures to this day.”

NZVHT currently supports orthopaedics, neonatal paediatrics, maternal health, cervical cancer screening, and mental health projects in Binh Dinh.

“I’m sometimes staggered by the strength of positive feeling towards us for our work in the Binh Dinh province, and the affection afforded us by the older generation of Vietnamese who colleagues would have cared for during the war. It makes me really proud to be a Kiwi when we experience this.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Album Review And Rap Beefs: Tame Impala, Currents.

Tame Impala’s new album Currents has one of the hallmarks of an enduring album. At first listen it seems like good, if somewhat ordinary, pop but as you go back more and more layers unravel revealing deeply rich, expertly crafted songs. More>>

Flagging Enthusiasm: Gareth Morgan Announces Winner Of $20k Flag Competition

The winner of the Morgan Foundation’s $20,000 flag competition is “Wā kāinga / Home”, designed by Auckland based Studio Alexander. Economist and philanthropist Gareth Morgan set up the competition because he had strong views on what the flag should represent but he couldn’t draw one himself. More>>

ALSO:

Books: The Lawson Quins Tell Their Incredible Story

They could have been any family of six children – except that five of them were born at once. It will come as a shock to many older New Zealanders to realise that Saturday July 25 is the Lawson quintuplets’ 50th birthday. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Wartime Women

Coinciding as it does with the movie Imitation Game which focusses on Alan Turing breaking the Enigma code in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park (“BP”), this book is likely to attract a wide readership. It deserves to do so, as it illustrates that BP was very much more than Turing and his colleagues. More>>

Maori Language Commission: Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori 2015

The theme for Māori Language Week 27 July – 2 August 2015 is ‘Whāngaihia te Reo ki ngā Mātua’ ‘Nurture the language in parents’. It aims to encourage and support every day Māori language use for parents and caregivers with children” says Acting Chief Executive Tuehu Harris.. More>>

ALSO:

Live Music: Earl Sweatshirt Plays To Sold Out Bodega

The hyped sell-out crowd had already packed themselves as close as they could get to the stage before Earl came on. The smell of weed, sweat and beer filled Bodega – more debauched sauna than bar by this point. When he arrived on stage the screaming ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Culture
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news