An angry war veteran is demanding an apology from Government Minister Judith Tizard after she embarrassed him in a stinging public attack on Anzac Day - but the MP is standing by her claims that the RSA politicised the remembrance ceremony.
Auckland RSA president Jim Newman says the Auckland Central MP interrupted him at the Auckland War Memorial Museum before the service, upset at the order of the wreath laying and that National Party Auckland Central candidate Pansy Wong was listed on the programme.
Newman said Tizard publicly humiliated him by complaining that she represented Auckland Central, not National's Wong, and that the NZ First Party should have been listed before the Act Party.
Tizard then "launched an attack" on Margaret Burke, an employee of the Auckland RSA, accusing her of being an Act Party member and therefore responsible for the order.
Speaking to the Herald on Sunday yesterday, Tizard said she was "aghast" the wreath-laying ceremony had been "politicised" by allowing other minor parties to participate.
In previous ceremonies Tizard said only three representatives - one from the Government, the Opposition and the Auckland Central MP - had officially laid wreaths.
Tizard represented the Government and was the first to lay a wreath with members of the Australian and Turkish governments.
"Party politics should have no part in Anzac Day remembrance and I was offended that it had,"she said.
"Otherwise every party would want to lay a wreath and I don't think that's appropriate."
Tizard said she did not even wear her Labour Party badge.
"I wasn't having a go at anyone. I was really upset and concerned, appalled really, that someone could politicise a day of remembrance."
Newman told the Herald on Sunday the RSA had every right to invite whatever political party it wanted to pay their respects.
"If they want to express their sorrow at the death of all those veterans that's fine, we applaud that. Everybody wants to express their horror at war and they should be allowed to do that," he said.
Tizard's actions were "insensitive and rude" said Newman, as she had interrupted a private conversation.
"I was clearly the target. I felt very embarrassed at being targeted in this way by a minister of the Crown in front of a group of people I was in conversation with," Newman said.
"Anzac Day is supposed to be a non-political day when the nation comes together and pays homage to those who fought for our country. Politics are laid to one side."
Newman investigated Tizard's complaint on the afternoon and found that her claims about Burke were wrong.
"It was a vindictive attack on a staff member of the Auckland RSA, an attack that held no merit and I am sure was designed to have Mrs Burke dismissed from her employment," said Newman.
"Ms Tizard has used her position to attempt to remedy an old wound created during the days when Mrs Burke was a Labour Party stalwart."
Tizard told the Herald on Sunday she apologised if she was wrong in accusing Burke of being an Act Party member.
Judith Collins, veterans' affairs spokeswoman for the National Party, attended the ceremony on behalf of leader John Key.
She said the politicians from National, Act and New Zealand First were asked to lay wreaths all at the same time which was "no big deal".
In the past, there was only the Government and the Opposition in Parliament but Collins said under MMP other parties had the right to pay their respects.
"This is democracy isn't it? It's utterly outrageous for Judith Tizard, or any other minister of the Crown, or frankly anybody, to tell the RSA how to run Anzac Day.