Sunday, October 5, 2014


The Vietnam veteran cohort is a family ... and like all good families we will occasionally agree to disagree but, at the end of the day, when one of our colleagues goes to greet his/her maker we collectively grieve.

And so it is that I want to acknowledge five Vietnam veterans who are walking the walk in spades .... Rangi Fitzgerald (ex 161 Battery); Peter (Hone) Heke (ex Victor 1 Company); BT (Bunny) Tumai (ex 161 Battery); Ronald (Miki) Apiti (ex Victor 2 Company and 161 Battery) and Mane Tuaiti (ex Victor 3 Company).     They determined that no Vietnam veteran should go to the grave unacknowledged.

To give effect to that Rangi made a beautiful korowai (feathered cloak) 'Te Hononga' designed to tell the story behind our journey in a project that consumed five years of loving work.   You can see the cloak and read the story behind it here

Hone, Bunny, Miki and Mane are the 'kaitiaki' (guardians) of the cloak.   They have made it their mission to travel the country to each and every funeral of a Vietnam veteran where, subject to the agreement of next-of-kin, the casket is draped with the korowai as a parting farewell to our colleague.

The cloak has featured at 26 funerals this year.    It's latest being at Kaitaia just a few days ago when Brian Senn, helicopter pilot attached to 9 Sqn RAAF, was farewelled.

All this done with a minimum of fuss and at their own expense.    It is my privilege to acknowledge publicly the work of Rangi, Peter, Bunny, Miki and Mane.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

We will remember them!