The media have got it wrong again.
They are banging on today about a new stamp issue honouring New Zealand’s 22 Victoria Cross holders.
And yes, the stamps are to be issued – by all accounts – without the country’s best-known living war hero.
Accoding to the Herald –
NZ Post will launch the Victoria Cross – the New Zealand Story, a series of 22, 60c stamps, on April 14.
Every VC winner from Captain Charles Heaphy, who fought in the New Zealand Wars, to Sergeant James Allen Ward, who fought in World War II, will be pictured.
But Corporal Willie Apiata will be represented on his stamp by his medal.
The Herald quotes a New Zealand Defence Force medals policy adviser.
This raises its own questions: how does one become a medals policy adviser, and what sort of pay do you get?
But that is to divert.
The issue is that the aforementioned medals policy adviser is a bloke called Jack Hayes.
And he said Corporal Apiata did not want his face to be used.
“Corporal Apiata, VC, was involved in early discussions about the stamp issue, and while supportive of honouring those who have been awarded the VC in the past, he felt it was not appropriate for his image to be on a postage stamp at this stage.
“He, like all New Zealanders, is indebted to the bravery of those whose exploits are celebrated on these stamps.”
The Herald reports its understanding that the Special Air Service soldier was uncomfortable with being recognised along with the other VC soldiers, who are all dead whereas he is still living.
It recalls that Apiata was awarded his VC in 2007 for rescuing an injured colleague while under fire in Afghanistan.
But Alf has been chatting with a bloke who knows a bloke who knows a bloke who knows Apiata.
Hence Alf is privy to the real oil.
It’s that Apiata – brave soldier that he is – positively bridled at the prospect of getting a licking.