Battle of Crete war veterans deserve an apology, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says, but he did not give one this morning.

He will talk to Prime Minister John Key about compensation for veterans who travelled to the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Crete in May.

The vets had to sort out their own accommodation and received $2000 from the Government - less than the cost of airfares.

In contrast, Australian veterans were flown to Greece and put up as guests of honour by their Government.

"We need to do better for the future," Dr Mapp told Radio New Zealand. "I am concerned about this and I guess as a nation we do owe them an apology."

When asked directly to apologise, he did not.

Dr Mapp and a private secretary used $26,000 on flights and accommodation.

He said this morning he had not been comfortable with that.

"At one point I did consider whether I should even go because of that issue but then I thought, well, it would be a bit unusual for a New Zealand minister representing the people of New Zealand not to be there when I knew both the Australians and the British would be."

The Veterans Affairs budget had been fully used and the limited support the Government was able to offer veterans had come from the prime minister's budget.

For future anniversary events the Government would look at more funding including to cover the cost of travel for vets and a support person.

"Frankly there's a lesson to be derived from this that's why I recommended to the Prime Minister that we make a change for the future."

Mr Key yesterday said he had told Dr Mapp to look at better help.

"I've asked the minister to go away and have a look at that and I think we can do better by our vets in future."

He acknowledged the different treatment between the minister and veterans.

"We just need to go away and assess whether that's fair...these are people who fought for New Zealand, I would like to make sure they are well looked after if I possibly can."

Dr Mapp this morning disagreed with reports that Australian vets were treated far better at the actual event. Reports said doctors were on hand to help the elderly men and they were given pride of place.

Dr Mapp said he sat with other ministers in the same area and seven Defence Force personnel were flown in with the sole job of caring for the diggers.

Labour leader Phil Goff said there would not be many veterans going to future anniversaries, so the Government could be more generous.

"It's an issue pretty dear to my heart because my father-in-law was captured in Crete and spent four years in atrocious conditions in a German prisoner of war camp," he said.

"We've got so few of our veterans left, I think we can afford to be a bit more generous than we have been with them."

- NZPA