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Chance to be at Pacific War 70th

Last updated 07:48 30/11/2012

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More Pacific War veterans are being given the chance to attend the 70th anniversary commemorations of the War in the Pacific.

The commemorations will be held in New Caledonia next April.

The closing date for registrations has been extended to December 7 and the eligibility criteria widened to include more Pacific War veterans.

Initially Veteran Affairs New Zealand extended an invitation to veterans who were awarded or are eligible for the Pacific Star. But this medal was only given to veterans who fought in northern parts of the Pacific.

Service men and woman who served on New Caledonia and large parts of the ocean including the Phoenix Islands, Samoa, Fiji, the New Hebrides and the Cocos/Keeling Islands were excluded.

Eligibility has now been extended to include veterans who served in the Pacific south of New Caledonia and were awarded the Defence Medal for service in the Pacific.

Veterans Affairs general manager Rick Ottaway says it is important that as many veterans as possible are given the opportunity to attend the commemorations.

"This is a great opportunity for veterans to have their service recognised, as well as pay tribute to those who did not return to New Zealand, and we want to ensure as many as are eligible can be there."

More than 165 expressions of interest have been received to date.

To be eligible to attend veterans must have attested into the New Zealand Armed Forces between December 8, 1941, and December 2, 1945, and have been awarded, or qualify for, the Pacific Star or the Defence Medal for service in the Pacific.

Veterans will need to meet medical and fitness criteria to ensure they are well enough to travel and take part in commemorative events in Noumea on April 25-26. Costs associated with travel, accommodation and medical costs will be met by Veterans Affairs New Zealand.

To register your interest call Veterans Affairs New Zealand freephone 0800 483 8372 or email veterans@xtra.co.nz by December 7.

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- Manukau Courier

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