Veterans Minister Chris Penk open to another national day for Defence Force

Veterans Minister Chris Penk told AM on Monday morning that he is open to the idea of another national day to mark the Defence Force and all veterans, an idea put forward by the RSA.

Sir Wayne Shelford told AM last year veterans don't feel their service is valued and called for a second national day to recognise their sacrifice.

"I like the idea in principle," Penk told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.

Penk said he has met recently with the RSA's leadership, and he said "they make some good arguments in favour of it".

The RSA has been struggling financially and an internal feud has even broken out between club heads.   

The conflict is driven by a modernisation programme to try and make up funds and has led to some clubs threatening to leave.

Penk recognised that the modernisation programme could be tricky, but he said: "They all should have the same aim, which is to support those who have served New Zealand with distinction over the years."

"From a Government point of view, that's also our aim, so we look to support them in any way that we can."

The Government funded the RSA with $275,000 in 2023.

Penk added "we can always have a conversation about more [funding] but obviously times are tough".

He emphasised that there are other ways that the Government can assist RSAs and veterans besides more money.

There are hopes from the RSA that another national day would help raise funds while also helping veterans feel more recognised.

But Penk told AM "we have to think carefully" about the idea.

"They want to be careful that the idea of it, which is to recognise current serving personnel as well as younger veterans, in addition to that piece we more traditionally do around ANZAC Day."

One suggestion is to have the day on November 11, Armistice Day.

"If it were to be on an anniversary that were, for example, tied to Armistice Day as you've referred to, then that actually implies a more backwards-looking focus," Penk said.

"There's a bit of detail to work through but it's a nice idea."

Chan-Green asked him again if he was open to it and Penk nodded.