21 Aug 2018

Repatriation campaigner angry, grateful to see soldiers return

From Morning Report, 6:46 am on 21 August 2018

The man credited with starting a campaign to have the remains of New Zealand servicemen returned home is feeling both angry and grateful now their repatriation is only hours away. An Air New Zealand charter flight carrying the remains of 27 soldiers and one dependent child is due to arrive at Auckland Airport at 10am Tuesday. The soldiers died while serving in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. Between 1955 and 1971 families could bring service personnel home for burial, provided they paid the costs. The policy changed in 1971 and since then repatriation has been automatic and paid for by the government. Former soldier Paul Thomas first started thinking about repatriation 42 years ago, after his mother asked him to get his brother Adrian home. He told RNZ reporter Andrew McRae he ramped up his campaign in 2013 by getting other next-of-kin involved and the final go ahead came early last year.