Victoria Cross Recipient Gifts Medal To NZ
Victoria Cross Recipient Gifts Medal To New Zealand
Corporal Willie Apiata, V.C, will gift the Victoria Cross he received for valour in Afghanistan to a New Zealand trust, giving more New Zealanders the opportunity to appreciate the honour.
The Victoria Cross for New Zealand was awarded to Corporal Apiata, 35, of the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS), in July last year for rescuing a wounded comrade under heavy enemy fire while on operations in Afghanistan in 2004. The Victoria Cross is the highest award for valour.
Corporal Apiata has decided to gift his Victoria Cross to the NZSAS Trust, a charitable organisation dedicated to the welfare of NZSAS personnel and their families, because he says he did not earn it on his own.
Three other NZSAS members were also given gallantry awards in July for their actions while serving in Afghanistan.
Although very proud to have been awarded the medal, Corporal Apiata says he wears it on behalf of the NZSAS, the wider New Zealand Defence Force, and all New Zealanders.
“It is important that the medal is protected for future generations. By gifting it to the NZSAS Trust, I know that my wishes will always be respected,” says Corporal Apiata.
Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae says the gifting reflects the nature of Corporal Apiata: “He is an unassuming, humble man who wants to ensure his mates and the wider NZDF can share his award.”
The medal will be kept at the home of the NZSAS in Rennie Lines, Papakura. There it will be protected and maintained. The medal will remain available to Corporal Apiata to wear and, in future years, for members of his family to wear.
Sir Wilson Whineray, chairman of the NZSAS Trust, says Corporal Apiata’s decision is extraordinary and makes him proud to be associated with such a fine New Zealander.
“The NZSAS Trust is happy to accept responsibility for ensuring that Corporal Apiata’s wishes will always be adhered to,” Sir Wilson said.
The NZSAS Trust was established in 2004 to focus on the welfare, resettlement, education and fundraising for those who have served with the NZSAS, and their families. The trust is supported by a management advisory board. It receives advice and legal support from Bell Gully and accounting services from PricewaterhouseCoopers.