Gallipoli vet's son 'fobbed off' for centenary

21:47, May 05 2014

The son of a Gallipoli war veteran wants an investigation into the allocation of 2000 places for New Zealanders at the centenary Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli next year.

Duncan Boswell, of Wanaka, put his name into the Gallipoli ballot hoping to get to Turkey to pay tribute to his father, Frederick, who landed at Anzac Cove almost 100 years ago.

He had assumed he would be guaranteed a pass, as a Cabinet paper from March 2013 said the Government intended to provide tickets to children of Gallipoli descendants outside the ballot.

That paper, released in July 2013, said there were an "unknown number" of children of Gallipoli veterans still alive, few of whom would be aged less than 75.

The paper said those children had a stronger case than any other descendant to attend the commemoration, but for most their age and health status would preclude them from attending.

Allocation of tickets for this group should be managed outside the ballot, in a special attendance pass allocation, the paper said.

Boswell said that when he learned he was not successful in the ballot, he contacted Veterans' Affairs and "after a fair bit of fobbing off", discovered of 193 children of veterans who applied for places, only 25 had gained places in the main draw of the ballot, announced March 31.

"There was almost a callousness involved in it," Boswell said.

"They were saying to me, 'hard luck mate, you're in the pot with everyone else'."

"They've had years to think about this major anniversary and done absolutely nothing."

Boswell sought an explanation of why children of Gallipoli veterans had been excluded from the special group, and wanted an apology from Veterans' Affairs.

He also wanted assurance the vetting process for direct descendants had been carried out properly, because he said he had not been asked for proof such as a birth certificate.

Boswell last week appeared on Radio New Zealand to voice his concerns, along with Rotorua woman Jill Nicholas, who had also been led to believe she would be given preference as her father had served at Gallipoli.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse told Radio New Zealand it had been difficult to estimate how many direct descendants would be interested in going to Gallipoli and would be fit to attend the service.

In 2012, a public consultation had been undertaken to determine how passes should be allocated.

In the ballot, there were special categories for direct descendants and veterans, and people unsuccessful in those categories had been given another chance in the general public category.

On April 24 Woodhouse announced that of the remaining 100 special tickets to be allocated by the Government, 35 double passes would be offered to children of Gallipoli descendants in the ballot, bringing the total of children able to attend to 60.

But Boswell said that was not good enough and he believed Woodhouse "had always had that up his sleeve".

He had since received calls from other children of Gallipoli veterans angry about missing out on the service.

"What I really want is a bit of an investigation into their processes as to how they allocate these things," he said.

"In view of other commemorations coming up - the battles at the Somme, Passchendaele, Ypres ... I would like to make sure they don't have this farce they have had for Anzac Day."

Nearly 10,000 New Zealanders registered for a chance to attend the Anzac Day centenary commemorations in Turkey, but just 2000 places were available after the Turkish Government set a cap on attendance.

There were 100 double passes allocated to direct descendants of Gallipoli veterans, 100 double passes to veterans of all conflicts, 750 double passes to all New Zealanders, and 100 places for the Government to allocate.

* Clarification: This story has been modified to further explain the Gallipoli ballot process.


Fairfax Media