Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Prime position offered to wheelchair-bound vet who was knocked back for Anzac parade

A war veteran who was not allowed to join in the Anzac Dawn Parade march because he was in a wheelchair has received an apology and been promised a prime position in next year's procession.

Auckland man Gareth Moore spoke out in dismay last week after his 93-year-old grandfather Allen Moore was told he could not be in the march to the Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph. Instead he and the four other war veterans in wheelchairs were told to meet them at the cenotaph.

The RSA told the Herald last week the decision was made with the returned service men's best interests at heart as they did not want to offend anyone, but have since come up with a plan which would allow veterans in wheelchairs to lead the parade.

Gareth Moore said he was "stoked" with the outcome, which was agreed after he met Auckland RSA president Graham Gibson last Friday.

Mr Gibson then met Mr Moore's grandparents at the weekend to apologise and reassure them they would be able to march next year.

"Graham Gibson outlaid a plan for the 2017 parade in which wheelchairs shall be front and centre. He also made it clear they meant no disrespect to those using wheelchairs. It is worth mentioning too that at no point did I blame the RSA and I am grateful they were so open to resolving the issue with me - they've copped quite a bit of flak over this which was never my aim," Gareth Moore said.

"I do believe [health and safety concerns] was the foundation for keeping the wheelchairs out of the parade for the last couple of years, but it wasn't communicated at all really."

Mr Gibson has given Mr Moore his word the wheelchair veterans will have a more memorable role next year. He had enjoyed going down memory lane when he met with Allen Moore to apologise at the weekend even though Mr Moore had said there was no need. "I had to front up to him, he's an old veteran and I had to show him respect."

- NZ Herald

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