Old soldiers will get more money to attend commemorations after the Government was left red-faced over the treatment of Battle of Crete veterans this year.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp yesterday said World War II veterans attending future 70th anniversary commemorations would be likely to have their airfare and accommodation costs covered.

The move comes after a Weekend Herald report highlighted the superior treatment Australian veterans received during Crete's 70th anniversary.

They stayed in the same hotels as officials and received free healthcare. New Zealand veterans got $2000 while Dr Mapp stayed in superior hotels at a cost of $26,000 to the taxpayer.

The news was welcomed by Bill Bristow of Papakura, who visited Crete this year.

Mr Bristow said he would look forward to returning to the Greek island in five years - when he will be 97.

"If I'm still kicking in another five years at the 75th anniversary in Crete, I'll be there smartly if I can."

Mr Bristow travelled to Crete for the recent 70th anniversary commemorations and was impressed with the treatment his Australian comrades received. "They had everything, the whole lot for them, airfares and accommodation. They were really looked after. We're left behind you might say."

Dr Mapp is to recommend that travel and accommodation for an accompanying person also be funded.

Over the next few years significant 70th anniversary commemorations overseas include those for El Alamein (2012), the Battle of Monte Cassino (2014) and VE and VJ days (2015).

Dr Mapp said New Zealand had to take lessons from Australia, which paid for its veterans' flights and accommodation as well as providing doctors during the commemorations.

"For future 70th commemorations - and there is a number coming up in 2012, 2013 and beyond - we need to be able to do that. The $2000 I can see was just simply not enough."

Prime Minister John Key said: "It's plain for everyone to see that Australia is treating their vets a bit better.

"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 the minister and veterans received.

"These are people who fought for New Zealand. I would like to make sure they are well looked after if I possibly can."

Veteran Affairs Minister Judith Collins said that she supported a more comprehensive funding package, but that was a matter for the nextBudget.

However she said the next significant commemoration - the 70th anniversary of the second Battle of El Alamein in October next year - might not be marked because of unrest in Egypt.

HONOURING FIGHTERS
Assistance for veterans to travel overseas for battle commemorations:
Currently: Up to $2000 funding from a ministerial discretionary fund once during their lifetime.
What Defence Minister Wayne Mapp wants: Full funding for travel and accommodation for each veteran and one accompanying person.

- additional reporting NZPA