NZ soldiers’ remains repatriated 60 years later

The grave of Trooper Adrian Raymond Thomas at Cheras Road Christian Cemetary, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: The families of New Zealand soldiers who were killed in Malaysia and Singapore some 60 years ago, at the height of the battle against communist forces, have a reason to rejoice after their government agreed to repatriate the bodies.

The decision has been a long time coming, but thanks to government funding, 36 families who spent decades trying to get their loved ones buried at home will now be able to do so, New Zealand television network TVNZ said.

“We’re righting a wrong – something that our veterans have wanted to happen for a long time,” NZ Veterans Minister David Bennett was quoted as saying.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff, who had also campaigned for the soldiers to be brought home, stressed the importance of closure for their families.

“My daughter-in-law has an uncle buried in Malaysia, I lost a nephew in Afghanistan,” Goff told TVNZ.

According to the report, although Australia had repatriated the bodies of 25 veterans last year, New Zealand had been slower to follow.

Some of the soldiers’ remains had remained in Malaysia and Singapore since 1955 as previous governments had refused to pay for repatriation, it added.