NZDF

Chief of Army comments on theft of medals

02 September 2011

Chief of Army Major General Tim Keating issued a video statement on the arrest of Keith Davies, commenting that the theft of medals from the museum strikes at the heart of Army's core values and is an affront to the New Zealand public.

A transcript of the video

Yesterday a former member of the Territorial Forces and staff member from the Army Museum was arrested and charged with offences relating to the theft of medals from the Army Museum.

I would personally like to thank the New Zealand Police Force for their tremendous efforts in bringing the case to this point. I will ensure that Army continues to support the endeavours of the Police as we close the case and ensure that we have learned lessons from this event.

The theft of the medals is deeply disturbing. The nature of this offence attacks our core values. We inherently trust our people and by extension the NZ public has trust in the New Zealand Army. The theft of these medals is also an affront to the history of New Zealand and the Army people that were involved in making that history. Every medal placed in trust to the museum is significant to the New Zealand community at large, the Army family and to the families of those recipients whose medals have been donated to the museum.

While I don't want to say anything that'll prejudice the case that is before the courts, what I want to make clear is that these events occurred nine years ago. New Zealanders will be upset by these events and rightfully should be so. But what they'll want to know from us is that we have put practises in place that address the issues that have occurred as a result of this arrest. I can assure the public that every measure possible has now been put in place by the staff off the museum and the Museum Trust Board that we are working closely with to ensure that this type of event does not occur in the future.

I have great faith in the museum staff team lead by Col (Rtd) Ray Seymour. They have been working tirelessly in the past few years where they have been running this museum to ensure that best practice, modern practises are in place to guard our treasures, our collection which is part of our army family history and part of the New Zealand heritage that we are safeguarding for the nation.

Background

On Wednesday 31 August, Keith Davies, former staff member at the Army Museum and 26-year Territorial Forces veteran was charged with the theft of medals from the museum, obtaining property by deception, false accounting and unlawfully exporting NZ antiquities.

Davies, a resident of Australia, was arrested upon his arrival back in New Zealand. He was remanded on bail and will appear in court on 22 September.

While the year-long police investigation was underway the NZ Defence Force could not inform families of what had occurred.

The Defence Force can now disclose that 395 medal sets comprising 843 individual medals were stolen from the museum between 1995 and 2002. The museum's entire collection of more than 500,000 items includes more than 11,000 medals.

Since the thefts occurred, a new team, led by Director Col (Rtd) Ray Seymour has been put in place. All possible measures have been taken since the discovery of the thefts to guard against it happening again and the Defence Force will continue to work with the Museum Trust Board on this matter.

As many of the stolen medals were donated to the museum over 20 years ago the recorded contact details are out of date; accordingly, if you have not been contacted by the end of September and you have any concerns about any medals donated to the museum, please visit the Museum's website at www.armymuseum.co.nz to make an inquiry. Staff at the Museum will respond to your request accordingly and will confirm whether your donations form part of the Police investigation.

This page was last reviewed on 2 September 2011, and is current.