Within the ranks of ex servicemen there have been many organisations formed with the sole purpose of maintaining contact with the veterans to ensure that their welfare as well as that of their families is looked after and to maintain social contact with its membership.
Some are devoted to a particular unit such as a Regiment Squadron or Ship others to a War or Campaign, examples being the Kings Empire Veterans (KEV) Italy Star Association, Korean Veterans, Malayan Veterans, RNZAFA Association, Ex Navalmen’s Association etc.
Many of these organisations are affiliated to the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association which represents all ex servicemen and has a dedicated welfare structure for Veterans anal their Families.
In 1900 Lord Ranfurly, Governor general of New Zealand considered there was a need for an organisation that War Veterans could identify with and founded the Empire Veterans Association.
At that time there were no fewer than 7000 Veterans in New Zealand consisting of ex Havel, Imperial and Colonial troops. They were Veterans of Wars dating from 1840 and included the CZ Wars and the Boer War.
In 1911 the Association changed its name to the Kings Empire Veterans after a suggestion from Lord Kitchener.
The requirements to become a member of KEV has Changed over the years, in earlier times the first priority was given to decorated soldiers and then to those with 10 years active service.
In 1963 this changed and ex service personnel over 60 years of age who had served overseas in His or Her Majesty’s service in any War, Conflict, Occupation Force or emergency waged by the crown and sanctioned by the NZ Government became eligible. Today there is no age limit, any Veteran may become a member and associate members are also welcome.
The establishment of the NZRSA in 1916 and its rapid expansion after World War 2 saw the decline of KEV particularly as Boer War and World car 1 veterans passed away.
KEV members were resolved that their unique Association should continue in existence and increased promotion of social, sporting and leisure activities at branch and national level and the 1980’s saw a remarkable resurgence of membership and sporting and social participation that still goes on today.
Members are ever mindful of the comradeship born of service and offer help and assistance to members in need, it liaises and supports the RNZRSA particularly in the Field of welfare.
The Marlborough branch of KEV meets on the first Thursday of each month at the Marlborough RSA Lounge and organises social, sporting and leisure events for its members.
It is currently organising a luncheon for its members and widows t0 take place shortly and welcome enquiries from veterans who may be interested in joining the Association to participate in its activities.