A total of 3890 New Zealand soldiers served in South Vietnam. Thirty-seven were killed in action and 187 were wounded. New Zealand's longest-serving combat unit in the war was 161 Battery, Royal NZ Artillery, which served from June 1965 to May 1971.


Original Source (Otago Daily Times) 29 May 2008

It was the first time New Zealand forces had fought, killed and died in a war that was not fully supported by the people back home. But it was not just anti-war protesters that cold-shouldered them.

The troops believed they were not properly backed by the 1965 government that bowed to pressure from the US to join the war for diplomatic and trade reasons and then made only a half-hearted commitment to their logistic and moral support.

The troops were made to pay income tax - unlike veterans of two world wars - on the specious claim that war had not been formally declared. Their overseas allowances were cut on equally false justifications and soldiers were forced to beg, borrow or steal everything from generators to medicines from well-equipped US forces.

As a result, the army left Vietnam in 1972 with its morale badly shattered and the soldiers came home to a hostile environment. Unlike returned servicemen of previous wars, they were not met by flag-waving crowds, but flown in at dead of night, told to take off their uniforms and not tell people where they had been.

When Auckland put on a home-coming civic reception for the gunners of 161 Battery in 1971 they were jeered as "baby-killers" and daubed with red paint symbolising spilled Vietnamese blood. Their commanding officer John Masters was subjected to a citizen's arrest by a peace group and charged with offensive behaviour for leading his men down Queen Street.

And Cold-shouldered by the RSA, the returning troops established the Ex-Vietnam Services Association (EVSA) and the two organisations did not come together until they negotiated the so-called Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government which spawned the government's apology and this weekend's commemoration.

About 20 per cent of the 3500 veterans who served in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972 have died, some prematurely of cancer and other conditions related to their service. Some have died by their own hands and others are still suffering the trauma of war.


Original Source (

From 1961 to 1971, US and South Vietnamese armies sprayed millions of litres of toxic herbicides to destroy forest cover and food for communist forces.

  • Herbicides used in the Operation Ranch Hand defoliation were identified by coloured stripes on containers: agent orange was the most widely used.
  • Veterans overseas have since blamed the spray for health problems such as diabetes and prostate cancer in former soldiers, and birth defects in their children.
  • After years of successive governments denying New Zealand soldiers were affected by agent orange, a parliamentary health select committee inquiry concluded in October 2004 that it was "beyond doubt" that New Zealand defence personnel were exposed to agent orange and other herbicides.
  • The inquiry followed the publication of the John Masters map which revealed heavy American spraying of agent orange and other defoliants in Phuoc Tuy province, where most New Zealand soldiers spent much of their time in Vietnam.

30 Years Later apologies


Video Clips

Ministerial Apologies
26th May 2008, Official Apologies given in the NZ Parliment. The Government will publicly apologise to Vietnam War veterans and their families, recognising the servicemen were not treated fairly when they returned from war.

I was 19
Tribute to the soldiers.

Veterans March 1987
Vietnam Veterans March (NZ / Aussies) (1987). PART 1 of 2

Veterans March 1987
Vietnam Veterans March (NZ / Aussies) (1987). PART 2 of 2

War Memorial Song
Vietnam War Film with Music - "War Memorial Song".