More honours for Nancy Wake, except NZ Govt

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington-born Nancy Wake – aka The White Mouse – was the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman of World War II, and the Gestapo’s most-wanted person.

Now she has been recognised with a new “heritage pylon”, unveiled by Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast in Oriental Pde yesterday.

Ms Wake, who was born in Roseneath but left New Zealand as a toddler, was living in France when Nazi Germany invaded during World War II. She joined the French Resistance and was smuggled to England for specialist training.

In 1944 she was parachuted back into France, where she co-ordinated the efforts of thousands of fighters and fought alongside them.

Ms Wake – codenamed the “The White Mouse” because of her ability to elude capture – at one point was No 1 on the Gestapo’s most wanted list, with an offer of five million francs for anyone who dobbed her in – or killed her.

In London, in 2006, she was presented with the New Zealand Returned Services Association’s Badge in Gold and life membership, for her services in the Special Operations Executive during the war. It was the first time her work was recognised by her country of birth.

She was, however, already the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman, collecting bravery awards from France, England, Australia and the United States. Ms Wake, now 97, lives in England.

Sadly the NZ Government still refuses to grant Wake an honour. I’m pretty dismayed that the powers that be seem to have got captured by officials who are more worried about the precedent an honour would create, rather than see it as an opportunity to honour an amazing woman who gave up a life of luxury and privilege to fight evil. The reality is that if NZ did grant Wake an honour, it would be in fact NZ gaining more doing so – proudly claiming Wake as a Kiwi. And Wake herself has been reported as saying she still has her NZ passport, and considers herself more Kiwi than Aussie.

Good on Wellington City Council for honouring Nancy Wake. Maybe that will shame the New Zealand Government into doing the same.

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