Māori showbands to receive medals for war effort

Māori showbands who entertained the troops during the Vietnam War will now be awarded two special medals through the New Zealand Defence Force, acknowledging their sacrifice and service during war effort.

The Māori Volcanics who have been together for more than 40 years, are now getting a medal for performing in Vietnam.

Billy Peters, of the Māori Volcanics, says, “I think that was a sign the fact that they really appreciated it, we went over there and took the time to go over there bring them some beautiful music from home.”

Mahora Peters, also a member of the Māori Volcanics says, “We went to Vietnam out of the goodness of our hearts or just simple because we wanted to be there and contribute in some way to our own boys that were fighting up there and loved every minute of it.”

More than 3000 New Zealanders including entertainers served in the Vietnam War that lasted 20 years.

Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating says, “They worked hard, like our service people. They're away from family. They faced danger.  They were in a dangerous environment and they provided a service as part of that war effort.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and all eligible entertainers who performed for the troops will be awarded two special medals.

All the Māori showbands and entertainers who performed during that war for more than 30 days and are NZ citizens are eligible.

Kataraina Wells, wife of the late Selwyn Rawiri, says, “It's of huge significance for Māoridom purely because showband entertainment originated here in Aotearoa and many other countries followed suit.   The fact the performers were never recognised has now ceased because we celebrate this moment.”

Family members of entertainers who have passed on are encouraged to contact the New Zealand Defence Force ahead of August 18.