The Returned Services Association (RSA) national chief executive has rejected accusations the organisation doesn’t understand tikanga.
This follows a recent call by a Ngapuhi leader for all “Maori warriors” to be returned home.
David Rankin says he wants all remains of Maori soldiers returned to New Zealand following the recent desecration of ANZAC graves in Libya.
“We need to act on that before further desecration occurs,” says Rankin.
However, he says he expects the RSA to oppose his suggestion “because they are totally ignorant of tikanga”.
RSA chief executive Dr Stephen Clarke says it is ultimately not the RSA’s decision to return the remains of Maori soldiers to New Zealand.
“We certainly understand tikanga,” he says. “The second commissioner of the RSA was Maori.”
It is the decision of the Government and to leave the soldiers where they rest, he says.
Lucy Orbell, a communications advisor at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, says New Zealand is a signatory of the Commonwealth War Graves Charter under which it is policy to have soldiers buried where they fall.