10 Dec 2010

Anzac poppies won't be NZ made

10:19 pm on 10 December 2010

The manufacture of Anzac poppies is moving overseas.

From 2012, the poppies offered in New Zealand street appeals will be made from parts manufactured in China and assembled in Australia.

The national organisation of the Returned and Services Association announced on Thursday it was ending its traditional manufacture in Christchurch - a move it says will save $150,000 a year.

The RSA says savings will be spent on war veterans and their families. Chief executive Stephen Clarke says buying from overseas is justified by the savings being made.

For more than three decades, the poppies have been produced by a Christchurch company that employs intellectually disabled workers who assemble them.

Kilmarnock Enterprises chief executive Rosemary Carr says workers will now miss out on $132,000 worth of income and are very disappointed at the move.

"They are very proud of the fact the poppies are worn by notable people. They're seen on television, they're at many ceremonies and throughout the world, really.

"That gives them a real buzz and it is a unique product that they are working on and assembling."

About 1.4 million Anzac poppies are produced annually. This year, sales of the symbol raised $2 million for the RSA.

RSA's decision, says PM

Prime Minister John Key says that while there is an emotional issue around poppies not being made in New Zealand, the decision rests with the RSA.

Mr Key says that because poppies symbolise the sacrifice made by many during war, there is a "home-grown" feel to them.

He says it would have been "kind of nice" if the production remained in this country, but at the end of the day the decision is for the RSA.

Mr Key says he will continue to buy a poppy each year - regardless of where they are made.