30 Sep 2013

Veterans inspire Maori Battalion protection bill

6:40 pm on 30 September 2013

A bill to give intellectual property rights to the 28th Maori Battalion was inspired by the last remaining veterans themselves, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage says.

An amendment to the Flags, Emblems and Names Protection Act 1981, currently going through the legislative process, will give the Maori Battalion and its emblems the same protection as the New Zealand Flag, and the Coat of Arms.

Under the amendment, it will become an offence to use the words "Maori Battalion" and its emblems for any commercial gain, or for them to be used in a deceptive manner to mislead people into thinking they are associated with the Maori Battalion when they are not.

Ministry spokesperson Dr Monty Soutar says the remaining 22 survivors of the 3600-strong 28th Maori Battalion were the motivation for the amendment, and they have been waiting for it for a long time.

Dr Soutar says it was their choice to protect the name they created through their service overseas, and they did it on behalf of their comrades who died at war.

A lot of people see the Maori Battalion name as tapu, or sacred, because it is a name whose reputation was earned through the spilling of blood, he says.