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Decision not to fully compensate Nepata brothers a disgrace

Te Ururoa Flavell
Māori Party Co-lader | MP for Waiariki

13th December 2013

Maori Party say the Government’s decision not to fully compensate Nepata brothers is a disgrace

The Maori Party says the Government’s decision not to fully compensate the Nepata brothers after they received horrific injuries with lifelong consequences during military service is a disgrace.

“We feel extremely frustrated, that after so many attempts to put forward the case for compensation for George and Damien Nepata, this result appears the day after the House lifts for the year. We had written to Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Hon Peter Dunne, Hon Michael Woodhouse and the Prime Minister about this case, asking that serious consideration be given to a request for adequate compensation for injuries suffered while under the duty of care of the army. We had also referred the case to the Maori Affairs Select Committee. It now feels like it’s back to the drawing board, but we will not give up – we owe it to the Nepata Brothers to continue the fight,” says Maori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

George Nepata became a tetraplegic as a result of an accident during training in Singapore in 1989. His brother Damien Nepata received burns to 40 percent of his body when the tank he was driving crashed, rolled and caught fire in the Waiouru training area in 1994.

“Both men received ACC payments and other entitlements, but they have never been compensated by the Government. Both the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee in 2003, and the Maori Affairs Select Committee in 2013 supported the motion that the brothers receive compensation. Not only is this decision a blow for the brothers, it’s a slap in the face to those of us who listened to the brothers tell their story, and in good faith made recommendations to the government.”

“We don’t think this decision is good enough, and we will continue to support the Nepata brothers to look for other avenues to address the gross lack of compensation.”

“What message does this send to our soldiers and those wanting a career in the military services? That they will suffer extreme hardship if they have a tragic accident whilst serving their country? I think we can do better than this. I think we can do better by the Nepata whanau,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

Link to report of the Maori Affairs Select Committee: http://www.parliament.nz/resource/0001679673

ENDS

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