Often in politics you get presented with issues that may seem of little consequence in the greater scheme of things such as the economy, health and education, but which actually are the work an electorate MP enjoys.

Helping people try and resolve these issues makes up the day to day work in the electorate, and between me and my very capable local staff, we do our best to sort out people’s concerns.

With the 97th anniversary of ANZAC Day coming up this month, one issue that has been recently resolved illustrates that sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference to people.

In 2007, the Defence Force resolved to replace the inert drill purpose .303 and SLR rifles carried by cadets at the Anzac Day parades with painted wooden replicas.

At the time, this caused great consternation amongst veterans, who saw it as an insult to both the cadets and those who had served in the armed forces overseas.  They slammed it as another example of the then Labour Government’s political correctness gone mad.

I was approached by several who wanted the wooden rifles replaced with the real thing again, and after making representations I’m pleased to say that Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman agreed, and this year the cadets will be parading with real rifles.

It may seem a small thing, but given that tens of thousands of New Zealanders turn up for Anzac Day commemorations every year, the day is clearly a significant one for us as a country.

This tradition attracts more support than Waitangi Day and is also attracting more and more of the younger generation who exhibit patriotism and see the day as one remembering our proud military history.

It is a day of remembrance at a time when we live in a benign strategic environment.  The Anzac spirit and ethos continues, however, with the new Australia-New Zealand Defence Relationship Framework.

The Defence Relationship Framework includes closer cooperation on capability development and procurement and more efficient burden sharing in our region, so that policy settings, military capabilities, and defence activities between our two countries will be considered in a more orderly, rigorous and comprehensive way.

The new Framework will facilitate innovative and more cost-efficient cooperation, including the development of complementary military capabilities.

Like the rifles, it may not seem a major issue, but it is an important one for all involved in New Zealand’s defence.

It also reinforces the Anzac relationship, which has been a close and important one for the last 97 years.  This ensures we will continue to look after each other’s strategic interests into the future.