Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Yesterday I, along with perhaps 400 other 'decent' New Zealanders, went  to the interment of Private Richard Harris at the urupa just down from the family Marae on SH1 on the long straight between Okaihau and the Rangiahuia Bridge (Adolf will know it well).

It was an occasion marked with huge pride and huge sadness and great dignity.     As you would expect there were many members from both the Northland and Taranaki branches of the family present along with a very large contingent from Richard's 2/1 Battalion, RNZIR,  a significent number from the Patamahoe Rugby Club (just out of Pukekohe) and many returned servicemen including one of the few surviving members of 28 Maori Battalion along with veterans from Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam and later conflicts.

The service itself was short and sharp and in accordance with the rites of the Ratana Church and, as is the want on these occasions, it bucketed down just as the casket was being lowered into the grave which had many of the Maori present nodding in approval.    Perhaps the most poignant memory I will take away was the haka performed Richards military mates in farewell.  I have seen many haka, I have never seen one done with such passion.

Back to the heading.   What a contrast.   The love, the pride, the dignity and the passion at the funeral compared with the sick, sad mouthings of Barbara Sumner-Burstyn and those who sought to associate themselves with her by defending the indefensible.

I had the privilege of speaking with a number of soldiers present who had served in Afghanistan.    To a man they said that Ms S-B had simply no idea of the mission of the PRT and how they operated.    They said Ms S-B should step out of her ivory castle and seek to visit the PRT to see on the ground the difference they were making .... but they doubted she would have the courage or whit to do so.

Richard Harris, RIP.   


1 comment:

Lord Egbut Nobacon said...

It is always a sad occasion when we have to bury a soldier but we seem to have lost the plot a bit.

So few NZ soldiers have been killed in combat over the last 45 years, I think it works out one for every four years since Vietnam, that we are over compensating and turning it into a political and media event with Hakas going viral on youtube and politicians falling over themselves to be involved. Why is it when a soldier gets knocked down by a car in Afghanistan the media report him as killed, if he gets blown to very small pieces he has fallen.

To many euphemisms to feel comfortable with at the moment.