Poppy abuse 'demeaning to soldiers'

01:37, Apr 26 2012

Abuse which has been hurled at Queenstown war veterans and volunteers collecting for Poppy Day is "demeaning to the soldiers" who gave their lives for New Zealand, says RSA president David Geddes.

The Vietnam war veteran said collectors in Queenstown were disappointed at the actions of some people who abused them for selling poppies they thought were made in China.

"It's very disappointing, especially considering that's not the point of why we're collecting and the information they seemed to be acting on was wrong."

The 8000 poppies being sold by the RSA were made by a group of disabled volunteers in Christchurch last year.

They were not, as some people seemed to believe, made in China, Geddes said.

About 30 volunteers took to the streets of Queenstown on Friday to collect for the RSA in the lead up to Anzac day tomorrow, but Geddes said many came back upset at the comments they had received.

"It's quite upsetting for people because they give their time for what they believe is a good cause and end up copping abuse from people. It's just very unfair."

Geddes said he believed the confusion came from news in 2010, that an Australian company won the tender to supply their poppies to New Zealand Returned Services Associations.

Those poppies are made in China but assembled in Australia. Queenstown however were still selling Christchurch-made poppies left over from last year.

"Either way, for people to tell collectors they wouldn't be buying their poppies because they were made in China is ridiculous.

"Nearly everything is made in China, and it isn't about that. It's about remembering the soldiers who fought in the wars and made the sacrifices they did for their countries," Geddes said.

"To abuse the volunteers trying to do a good thing is demeaning to the soldiers really."

Sales were down from last year he said, with only about 6000 poppies sold in the Queenstown region so far.

Geddes said they were hopeful however, that they might be able to break even on last year throughout tomorrow's Anzac day services.

"I couldn't say exactly why sales were down this year, but people's finances have definitely been stretched in the past year and people have already had to dig deep for a number of charities so I'm sure that's a factor," he said.


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