Vietnam vet in court over pensions

Last updated 11:37 07/04/2014

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A terminally ill Vietnam War veteran and Anglican priest has gone to the High Court to challenge a series of alleged failures in the administration of war pensions.

Father Walter Te Ua, 69, survived three tours of duty in the 1960s but now has medical conditions, including a terminal one, which have been attributed to his war service.

Te Ua was today in the High Court at Wellington where his lawyer, Graham Taylor, said Veterans Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) had several systemic failures and central to that is the loss of records.

"An unknown proportion of the original records have been destroyed without first being reproduced," Taylor said.

The loss of records was random so the decision-making process on pensions was suspect, Taylor said.

"Nothing is too good for our boys", should still be the underlying proposition and the War Pensions Act should be applied benevolently, he said.

Instead the act had been administered - and Te Ua's court proceedings defended - in a niggardly way, he said.

This morning came a conditional offer for VANZ to pay more than $2000 Te Ua paid six years ago for a gastroscopy for a reflux condition that VANZ had already accepted was linked to his war service.

VANZ said Te Ua should have waited to get approval for payment for the gastroscopy but Taylor said Te Ua had been a worried man and VANZ had not responded to his worries.

In court the lawyer for the secretary of war pensions and the Defence Force, Anthea Williams, said VANZ wanted copies of invoices and medical reports about why the medical treatment was sought from a private provider, rather than the public health system.

Te Ua's court hearing is due to take about two days before Justice Christian Whata.

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- The Dominion Post

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