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Willie Apiata gifts VC to New Zealand

Willie Apiata gifts VC to New Zealand

Defence Minister Phil Goff today accepted on behalf of New Zealand the Victoria Cross medal awarded last year to Corporal Willie Apiata of the SAS.

The Victoria Cross for New Zealand is the supreme military award for valour. Corporal Apiata was awarded the VC for his actions in Afghanistan in 2004 in saving the life of a comrade while under heavy fire from opposing forces.

“Willie Apiata earned the Victoria Cross for his courage and selflessness in putting his own life at severe risk to save the life of his comrade,” Phil Goff said.

“Today, in a further remarkable example of selfless behaviour, he has donated his VC to be held by the NZSAS Trust on behalf of the nation.

“His actions reflect the commitment members of the SAS have to each other and the importance the Unit attaches to humility as one of its core values.

“Willia Apiata says he wears the VC on behalf of the New Zealand SAS, the NZ Defence Force and all New Zealanders. Like others before him, such as Charles Upham, he credits the winning of the medal to the shared efforts of the wider group of which he is a part.

“His decision to donate his medal and not seek material reward from it is hugely generous. It ensures that his VC is protected for the future generations of New Zealanders. It can never be sold.

“The medal will reside in the SAS compound in Papakura and will be on public display whenever Corporal Apiata wears it for public ceremonial purposes.

“In the future, the medal could go on public display at special events or ceremonies. This decision will be made by the NZSAS Trust, a charitable organisation dedicated to the welfare of SAS members and their families, in consultation with Corporal Apiata.

“New Zealanders can be proud of the extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty by Corporal Apiata and gratified by his generous decision to gift it to New Zealand,” Phil Goff said.

“This medal is the first Victoria Cross for New Zealand to be awarded since it was instituted in 1999. It is the 14th VC awarded since the end of WWII and the first awarded to a member of the New Zealand military since 1946,” Phil Goff said.


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