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Bring home the soldiers: Labour

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/10/2016
David Shearer © RNZ / Alexander Robertson David Shearer

The government should "just get on with the job" and bring home the bodies of Kiwi soldiers buried in Malaysia, Labour says.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Craig Foss on Thursday said the long-held policy of not repatriating soldiers who died while serving overseas would be reconsidered.

He's asked the Veterans' Advisory Board to investigate the situation and report to him by March next year.

It's known there are 36 New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, 35 in Korea and eight in Japan.

Relatives of some of those buried in Malaysia recently pleaded for their return, and appeared in front of a parliamentary committee.

Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, David Shearer, says the submissions were "highly moving" and no doubt caused Mr Foss to change his mind about the policy.

"The decision to conduct a review into the soldiers when the situation and the merits of the case are without doubt is unnecessary," Mr Shearer said on Thursday.

"It's time to just get on with the job and bring these soldiers back."

Mr Foss says while the focus has been on the soldiers buried in Malaysia, the advisory board will consider all the soldiers whose bodies weren't brought home.

From 1948 to 1967, soldiers who died while serving overseas were buried in the nearest suitable Commonwealth or allied forces cemeteries.

In June this year, the bodies of 33 Australian soldiers buried in Malaysia and Singapore were brought home.

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