A ceremony has been held at the Ōhakea Airforce Base this afternoon for the bodies of three servicemen repatriated from Fiji and American Samoa.
The men, Flight Lieutenant George Beban, Leading Aircraftman Ralph Scott, and Navy Engineering Mechanic Russell Moore died while on active duty overseas after 1955 but they were buried where they died.
They are the first to be repatriated after a change of government policy last year.
The men's remains were flown in a C-130 Hercules.
Their caskets were carried off the back ramp of the plane by servicemen to a Māori welcome and a guard of honour.
A private service for the three families was then held before hearses carried the caskets away from the base as service men and women performed a haka.
Family members said it was an emotional day to have their loved ones returned home even after such a long time.
Colleen Walker, who was nine when her brother Russell Moore died in Pago Pago said it was something the family had always wanted.
"We've never, any of us have forgotten him, my mother kept the memory alive and when she died we have kept it alive for our kids."
Russ Beban was 5-years old when his father, George Beban, died in Fiji while refereeing a boxing match.
"This is one of the greatest days of my life."
Minister for Veterans' Affairs Ron Mark said the repatriation was putting right what should have been done long ago.
"This is just correcting something fundamentally wrong."
Another 33 service personnel and one child will be returned to New Zealand before October.