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Eligibility for War Pensions extended

11 June 2002

Eligibility for War Pensions is to be widened and will now include personnel who witnessed French nuclear tests at Mururoa, Veterans' Affairs Minister Mark Burton announced today at the RNZRSA annual conference in Wellington.

"Veterans' organisations like the RNZRSA have long expressed their unease that, for whatever reason, the service of New Zealand personnel in a number of specific operations has not been fully recognised," Mark Burton said.

"As Minister of Veterans' Affairs, I have decided that a number of previously overlooked overseas operations should be deemed emergencies for the purpose of full war pensions coverage."

Full pension coverage means that veterans do not have to prove that a disability is the result of their service - only that it may have been.

"I am pleased to announce today that full war pension coverage will be extended to cover defence personnel who were onboard HMNZS Otago and Canterbury during the French nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll in July 1973," Mark Burton said.

"I have also extended eligibility to a number of United Nations peacekeeping operations prior to 1974, namely:

- Personnel deployed to the UN peacekeeping mission in Korea between July 1953 and July 1957

- UN Observers in India and Pakistan between 1952 and 1974, and

- Personnel involved in UN missions in the Middle East between 1954 and 1974.

"I have also amended and reissued the declarations of service for war pensions coverage for the Malayan Emergency between 1948 and 1960, service on the Thai/Malay border between 1960 and 1964, and the Indonesian Confrontation between 1962 and 1966, because the original declaration was too restrictive.

"Defence personnel deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Kiwi Stand will also be eligible for full war pension coverage."

Mark Burton told RSA delegates that in conjunction with addressing these War Pension issues, the government has also extended eligibility for burial in service cemeteries.

"There were previously a number of inconsistencies. Now, as a general rule, anyone eligible for a full war pension is also eligible to rest in peace in a service cemetery.

"The government, the RNZRSA and other veterans' groups have - by working together - made considerable progress on a range of veterans' issues over the last 2 and a half years.

"There is still more work to be done. The Government continues to take veterans' issues very seriously - and will continue that work with all those in the veteran community who share that commitment to working constructively with us," Mark Burton said.


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