Who will manage the repatriation process?
Group Captain Carl Nixon, ONZM is managing the project. Group Captain Nixon is 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.
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.
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.
NZDF Kaumātua (Koroua 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.
Where are the personnel being reburied?
Families will re-inter their relative at a place and time of their choosing in New Zealand. The NZDF will not be conducting military funerals as all of the deceased had military funerals prior to their interment. We expect many families will want to reflect on and commemorate the life of their relative in some way, and the NZDF is offering some support to the re-interments if families request it. Remains will be re-interred at Service, public, or private cemeteries depending on family preferences and the Service person's qualifying service. Memorials (headstones or plaques) will be provided.