Message from Bernadine MacKenzie, Head of Veterans’ Affairs

20th March 2020


To let you know that the Minister for Veterans has introduced a new bill in Parliament. It is called the Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, and it deals with some of the recommendations that were made in the Paterson report, following Ron Paterson’s review of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014.


While it has not been possible to cover everything Ron Paterson recommended, there are measures in the bill which would have immediate and positive impact on the lives of veterans. For example, if passed by Parliament, it would increase access to mental health services, give more recognition to psychological illnesses, and more support for the families of veterans.


You might like to take a look at it, and see what it covers in more detail. It is now available on the Parliament website at the following link:  

It has also been published on the website of the Parliamentary Counsel Office: 


Introducing a bill means that it has been brought to Parliament and will shortly be available for MPs to consider and debate. It has not yet been discussed in Parliament. We will let you know once this process begins and, in particular, we will make sure we alert you once we are aware that the select committee (which will examine the bill in more detail) is asking stakeholders for their views, through the submission process.


The Minister is looking forward to the veterans’ community engaging with this legislation (that will be once Parliament refers it to a select committee to look at). While he hopes to be able to progress these changes as soon as practicable, as I’m sure you’ll realise, we are now in an environment where the Government’s highest priority is responding to the impacts of COVID-19. However it is good to know that we are now on the way to having an updated and better Veterans’ Support Act.


I would also like to take this opportunity to pass on the best wishes of Veterans’ Affairs to you, your families and whanau, and the members of your organisations. It is a difficult time for all of New Zealand right now, with the country braced to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have seen that our website contains a link which will take you to the most up-to-date information about the pandemic on the Ministry of Health website. It also refers you to a number to call if you have any concerns – this is the dedicated COVID-19 health line 0800 358 5453.


We will let you know you on our website if any of our services are affected by the pandemic.


Stay safe and kind regards