Whanau of Māori Battalion soldiers reunited with medals

  • Hon Meka Whaitiri

A ceremony has been held today in Gisborne where the unclaimed medals of 28 (Māori) Battalion C Company soldiers were presented to their families.

After the Second World War, returning service personnel needed to apply for their medals and then they would be posted out to them.

While most medals were issued in the early 1950s, others have been claimed by Service personnel or their descendants over the last 70 years. Approximately 15 percent of all those who served in the Second World War have not claimed their medals.

New Zealand Defence Force Personnel Archives and Medals (PAM) has been working with lawyer David Stone since March 2019 on the unclaimed medals of C Company 28 Maori Battalion. PAM checked service files and advised Mr Stone of the issued and unclaimed medals for each serviceperson. This work was concluded in September 2020.

“More than 900 records were checked and 137 medals found to be unclaimed, with more than 65 of these being presented today,” said Meka Whaitiri, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

“I am pleased for the whanau of C Company soldiers that they now have their tīpunas’ medals,” she said.

“It is a privilege to be here to witness families of those warriors of the 28 (Maori) Battalion, recognising their service and sacrifice, and receiving these medals as taonga for their whanau.”

The Gisborne event follows a similar ceremony at Pakipaki in the Hawke’s Bay earlier this year.

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