Whangarei Member of Parliament, Dr Shane Reti, has today received a parliamentary petition seeking medal recognition for New Zealanders who provide humanitarian service overseas.
Whangarei constituent, Mr Alan Ward, started the process several years ago after serving overseas himself and being aware of many other New Zealanders who had never received medallic recognition.
“It is simply not the New Zealand way to not acknowledge New Zealanders who provide valuable humanitarian service in dangerous and disaster situations overseas,” says Mr Ward.
“The current honorific system only provides medal recognition if recipients are in a New Zealand government sponsored program at the same time as the NZ Defence Force. However, many Non Government Agencies (NGOs) deploy staff into emergency situations overseas before, after and without NZDF involvement,” says Mr Ward.
Mr Ward approached Dr Reti in 2015 and together they have collaborated on a parliamentary petition which now has several hundred signatures and support from all NGOs including Red Cross, World Vision, NZ Police, Fire Service and the RSA.
“All of the major Non Government Agencies that I approached were immediately and enthusiastically supportive of the petition,” says Dr Reti.
“The Australians have had the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal for exactly this purpose for many years and we would look to model on that,” says Dr Reti.
Support for the petition:
“We request, therefore, that the Select Committee give an unequivocally positive response to your petition to establish a Humanitarian Overseas Service medal”
- CEO, World Vision NZ
“Responding at times of crises and disaster requires bravery and sacrifice”
- CEO, Volunteer Service Abroad NZ
“They [people] undertake this work tirelessly and under extreme circumstances and should absolutely have the opportunity of being presented with a medal for their immense contribution”
- CEO, Save the Children NZ
“We see this [medallic recognition] as an excellent and appropriate way to recognise the humanitarian actions of New Zealanders in situations of extreme need and sometimes significant danger…”
- Chief, The Salvation Army NZ
“Whilst very few carry out these tasks to gain recognition, it is however one way our country can show its appreciation”
- National President, Returned Services Association
“We definitely support the idea that everyone who is deployed out of NZ to help other countries during disasters should have the opportunity of being presented with a medal for their efforts”
- Secretary, NZ Red Cross
“We request that this situation be reviewed, and that deserving people who provide essential humanitarian support in difficult or dangerous circumstances have the opportunity to be appropriately acknowledged”
- CEO, ChildFund NZ
“New Zealand Police acknowledges that there is a medallic gap for those providing this type of overseas service…for these staff and other New Zealanders providing humanitarian service overseas to be acknowledged by the New Zealand Government would be very well deserved”
- Commissioner of Police, NZ Police
“Our people volunteer themselves for this work without regard to reward or recognition. However, I believe their courage and commitment to helping others beyond our shores deserves medallic recognition regardless of whether they are deployed alongside the New Zealand Defence Force”
- CEO, NZ Fire Service