The forsaken whanau - the plight of our former serving men and woman - call for action


  • 450 former service men and women serving sentences in the corrections system

  • Answers wanted from the Chief Justice and the Chief Judge of the District Courts

  • Increasing rates of mental health and suicide amongst the recently served veterans population

  • The absence of a coherent strategy for transition for our men and women in the service to life outside

  • Lack of clarity around entitlements

  • Call for heads to roll of institutions have been left wanting

“And as for the Chief Judge of the District Court and the Chief Justice I want answers as to why your underlings are not requesting cultural reports that give an insight into what has happened in the life of an offender so we can better understand what is going on – but more importantly the very judges sitting on the bench can gain an insight – all of which plays into sentencing. And I want an explanation from the Ministry of Justice as to why, if it is true, that such reports have been defunded – because let me tell you if it is true how dare you con the New Zealand public with all this rhetoric about your commitment to reducing the rates of incarceration. One of you is not doing your job – its either the judges or it’s the Ministry of Justice.” Matthew Tukaki, Chair of the National Maori Authority, Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council

The Chair of the National Maori Authority and Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew Tukaki, has told the Government that they must act without delay to implement the recommendations of a working group to provide equitable access to support and entitlements to all veterans, especially those who have recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tukaki also has major questions for the Justice Ministry, the Chief judge of the District Courts and the Chief Justice of the High Court when it comes to those former service men and women, estimated to be more than 450, in prison:

“The reality is that Maori, for many decades, have been the backbone and heavy lifters of the Army, Navy and Airforce. The treatment that many of them have faced, including being ill prepared for being turfed out of that Service whanau, to life on the outside after suffering trauma through the experience of service is a disgrace. As far as I am concerned that is not how you treat people who have served this country and with a proud history from the Maori Battalion and the great war’s to Vietnam and Korea right through to Iraq and Afghanistan.” Tukaki said

“First of all, a major report with recommendations from an esteemed working group has been handed to the Minister and the Cabinet, without delay, must support them. This includes the implementation of a restructure of how access to support and entitlements are provide with an absolute focus on wellbeing and mental health support no matter how someone may leave the Defence whanau. This includes supporting a covenant, similar to the United Kingdom and Australia that clearly outlines what that support is no matter the length of service. When someone puts up their hand to defend this nation then they deserve more than just a medal – they deserve equity.” Tukaki said

“Having spoken to veterans, and with the Chair of the Maori Council, Henare Mason, also have served in Vietnam, I can tell you the stories are harrowing – Ron Mark has done amazing work in support of our veterans as has the Veterans Advisory Group – what we need to do is support their mahi to implementation. – but I do have some questions of others that must be answered.” Tukaki

“I want to know exactly how many service men and women are currently incarcerated and want to know how it got to a point that many of them exited and received next to nothing. I want to know we are starting to see so many of them beginning to show up not just in the prison population but in the mental health numbers and suicide data. And I sure as hell want to know why neither Justice or the Court system have done little to nothing about the issue that is clearly both hidden from sight and quite frankly forsaken those who have chose to make the ultimate sacrifice. Where are the wrap around services? Where are the transition out services? Where are dedicated mental health and support services?” Tukaki said

“And as for the Chief Judge of the District Court and the Chief Justice I want answers as to why your underlings are not requesting cultural reports that give an insight into what has happened in the life of an offender so we can better understand what is going on – but more importantly the very judges sitting on the bench can gain an insight – all of which plays into sentencing. And I want an explanation from the Ministry of Justice as to why, if it is true, that such reports have been defunded – because let me tell you if it is true how dare you con the New Zealand public with all this rhetoric about your commitment to reducing the rates of incarceration. One of you is not doing your job – its either the judges or it’s the Ministry of Justice.” Tukaki said

“It is an absolute must that the recommendations of the Veterans Advisory Board be implemented immediately and if either the Greens or the Treasury stand in the way then they need to hoof it. And as I mentioned before I want answers as to the true plight of our forsaken whanau, our Veterans, when it comes to the Ministry of Justice and the Court System – and if either of those two institutions have let them down I want heads to roll.” Tukaki

“And our message to our whanau of service men and women – we want you to know that we will fight alongside you to ensure you are treated with respect.” Tukaki said

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