Maori war veterans and their whanau were called to Northland to talk about mistreatment they faced when they came home from war in preparation for a Waitangi Tribunal hearing.

Some veterans were not allowed into the RSA and some returned to find their family land had been taken, said Northland war veteran Hirini Henare.

Mr Henare hosted a hui at Otiria Marae yesterday to prepare for next year's Waitangi Tribunal hearing which will see Maori veterans and their whanau talk about how the Crown/Government may have breached Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the way it treated Maori soldiers. Mr Henare said the hui was a chance to collate some of these stories.

"There were forces involved with hidden kaupapa which has not been unveiled. The effect the war had on families was huge. Some were affected by poison and there was one pregnant woman who committed suicide because she didn't want to pass on the Agent Orange disease she had got from her father.


"These are stories which haven't been heard so we want to draw on that and take these to the Tribunal," he said.

Mr Henare served in Vietnam, Malaya and Borneo for seven years until he had "had enough".

"I had the fortune when I came out [of the forces] to go with Sir James Henare who was the commanding officer of the 28th Maori Battalion. He spoke about how Maori soldiers were not allowed in some RSA because they were natives. It was to the point where one soldier had changed his nationality to Hawaiian."

Mr Henare said Maori who went to war also had to deal with returning home to find their land had been taken by the Government.

"When I came back it was all gone," he said. Mr Henare said yesterday's hui was open to both Maori and non-Maori veterans and their families, as they fought together in war and both suffered returning home.