New Zealand to say thanks to VeteransVeterans' Affairs
Mr Barker said, "this will be a year for New Zealand to commemorate and honour the sacrifice and service of New Zealand's servicemen and women."
The Year of the Veteran will be launched officially at Parliament in February next year. While there will be some nation-wide activities throughout the year, there will also be a local focus.
"The Government has established a “ Year of the Veteran Community Grants Fund” which will provide the opportunity for local communities to honour their servicemen and women. Criteria for the fund will be announced later but will be available to local authorities, ex-service associations and other community organisations such as schools and local museums who seek support to organise commemorations of New Zealand's servicemen and women," said Mr Barker.
Local projects might include the refurbishment or rededication of local war memorials and honour rolls, local veterans "appreciation days", collections of veterans' stories, local concerts, exhibitions and other events in the community that commemorate local veterans.
Mr Barker says "we deliberately chose Queenstown for today's announcement as there is a certain poignancy about the Memorial here, there are many family names enshrined here and it is important to recognise the significant sacrifice of not only New Zealand, but many New Zealand families who lost sons, brothers, uncles and cousins to war.
"In this context, 2006 is the opportunity to not only commemorate the service and sacrifice by our veterans, but also to honour their contribution to the development of their communities here at home in New Zealand," he said.
Mr Barker says "Importantly, 2006 is also the 90th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association. The RNZRSA is a key organisation in caring for the welfare of our servicemen and women, past and present. The RSA’s 90th birthday will be a key feature of this significant year.
"I hope the designation of 2006 as the Year of the Veteran will encourage even greater support in our local communities for our veterans.
"In 2006, in our towns and in our communities, we have the opportunity in the Year of the Veteran to acknowledge our veterans. By simply saying thanks, we will show our veterans that they are valued," he said.