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In Honour

Only about 500 of the 140,000 Kiwis who served in World War II remain today. This database is not exhaustive. There will be people who haven’t been located, and the fallibility of public records means some on the list may already have died. These are their faces and their service details. These men and women should be commemorated today, and not just become names on an honour roll.

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Kiwi World War II veterans Norman Robinson, John Barham, Evan Emirali, and John Foote. PHOTOS: NZIPP

In Honour is a searchable database of the surviving veterans of World War II, as of April 2020.

The project took eight months of research, drawing information from agencies and organisations, hundreds of phone calls, equally as many emails, and countless hours immersed in war records.

It is a patchwork of information. No organisation has a complete and accurate record of our surviving WWII veterans, so details have been pulled from a wide range of places.

Hours have been spent cross-referencing snippets of information with war records, RSA memberships, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s online cenotaph, among other sources.

For much of our nation, the whereabouts of our WWII veterans is stored in the minds of RSA welfare officers. This is particularly true in our small rural towns.

Often an RSA branch is run by a single person, out of their own home.

Frequently, there was no documented record of surviving veterans in any given region. Those who served in the war were given service numbers in the 1930s and 40s, when record-keeping and information sharing was a lot harder.

Service numbers were often given to more than one person unintentionally, and even our war museum’s records have inaccuracies because of the nature of wartime record-keeping.

The nature of wartime means records were often inaccurate or incomplete. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Contributing to the incomplete records in New Zealand is this: many of our veterans came home from war and wanted to forget. At the very least, they didn’t want to be celebrated. They will all tell you, even today, that they are not heroes.

As the 230-odd RSAs nationwide began to understand the importance of In Honour, they began to reply to emails, and veterans were slowly added to the database.

The database is not exhaustive. There will be people who haven’t been located, and the fallibility of public records means some on the list may already have died.

We welcome corrections and updates to be submitted, although the database will not be updated in perpetuity. It is a snapshot of records as at publication.

The invitation is there for anyone who wants to opt out and be removed from the database to get in touch with us.

Minister of Veterans Ron Mark highlighted the importance of informed consent and opt-out provisions, but also welcomed efforts to honour and remember those who have fought for New Zealand.

Minister of Veterans Ron Mark welcomes the effort to honour and remember Kiwi veterans. PHOTO: MURRAY WILSON/STUFF

RSA president B J Clark is particularly pleased that the database will broaden the audience for the professional photographers’ nationwide project in which veterans sat for what proved a “compelling” series of portraits.

“You look into the eyes of these people, chest pumped, eyes burning bright. Some of those photos are stunning. It was an amazing project.”

The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers’ 2014 Veterans’ Portrait Project provided a visually stunning basis for this database. The institute was generous with information, and offered solid support for In Honour.

If you would like to amend any listing on this database, or have information to add to or subtract from it, please email inhonour@stuff.co.nz.

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