NZDF

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who will be repatriated?
  • Who will manage the repatriation process?
  • What are the next steps?
  • Why is the 1955 policy change taken as a reference point?
  • How has military repatriation policy changed over time?
  • How much will repatriation cost?
  • Can I visit the graves of those interred in Malaysia and Singapore?
  • What religious and cultural protocols are being undertaken before and during the dis-interments abroad?
    Who will be repatriated?

    The New Zealand Government has agreed to the repatriation of Service personnel and dependants interred or reinterred in Singapore and Malaysia since 1 January 1955, subject to family wishes in the first instance.

    The Government has also tasked the Chief of Defence Force with exploring the option of extending this policy to cover other post-1954 burials, and reporting back to Cabinet with a proposal.

    Who will manage the repatriation process?

    Group Captain Carl Nixon, ONZM has been appointed to manage the project. Group Captain Nixon will be overseeing the team that will liaise with families, plan the logistics and technical tasks, provide cultural and ceremonial advice, and engage with other government agencies and overseas governments.

    What are the next steps?

    Cabinet will be provided with a detailed plan and cost for the repatriations from Malaysia and Singapore, and the Chief of Defence Force’s preferred option to repatriate service personnel from elsewhere.

    Why is the 1955 policy change taken as a reference point?

    All burials up to the 1955 policy change were treated equally in that all those who died overseas were buried overseas close to where they died. This policy was adhered to without exception and gained widespread public acceptance.

    The 1955 policy introduced inequalities between those families who could and those who could not afford to repatriate, and was administered in an inconsistent fashion. 

    How has military repatriation policy changed over time?

    Between 1899 and 1955, New Zealand government policy for Service personnel who died overseas was that they should be buried close to where they died and not be repatriated to New Zealand. The underlying principle was that there should be equality in the manner in which the dead were buried and commemorated, regardless of background, status, wealth or cause and location of death.

    In early 1955 New Zealand overseas burial policy changed. The new policy allowed families to repatriate Service personnel who died overseas for burial at home, provided that the families agreed to pay the costs of repatriation.

    Overseas burial policy changed again in early 1971. Since that date New Zealand’s policy has been to repatriate at public expense all Service personnel and their dependents who die while serving overseas. It has also been policy since that time not to repatriate the remains of those who were already interred overseas. This policy was last considered and reconfirmed by Cabinet in 2007.

    How much will repatriation cost?

    The planning and scoping process has been allocated $750,000 in 2017/2018.

    Can I visit the graves of those interred in Malaysia and Singapore?

    Yes. The graves of New Zealand service personnel and dependants that could be repatriated as part of Te Auraki are in cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cemeteries in Cheras Road (Kuala Lumpur) and Kamunting Road (Taiping) are public cemeteries and there are no restrictions to visiting the graves. The cemetery inside Terendak Camp is accessible to the public, but permission is needed from the Malaysian Armed Forces 30 days in advance. More information on the application process is available on New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: www.mfat.govt.nz/en/media-and-resources/news/visiting-terendak-military-cemetery-malacca.

    What religious and cultural protocols are being undertaken before and during the dis-interments abroad?

    NZDF Chaplains will conduct a short graveside service prior to all of the dis-interments. While the graves are consecrated ground, and therefore prayer before disturbing it is appropriate, our larger focus is on the remaining family and providing pastoral comfort for them (the individual is now with God). NZDF Kaumatua and Kuia will conduct karakia prior to, during, and on completion of every exhumation; and during each stage of the journey home to New Zealand. NZDF service personnel will accompany the remains continuously once the exhumation is complete and the remains have been prepared for their return to New Zealand. On return to New Zealand the NZDF will conduct a short arrival or ‘ramp’ ceremony that will include haka, pōwhiri, karakia, and include a period of reflection for families to be with their relative before they are handed over to families for the re-interments..

This page was last reviewed on 31 January 2018, and is current.