A final farewell to the last Tūhoe soldier of the 28th Māori Battalion was given in full military honours at Ōwhakatoro Marae in Ruatoki today. 94-year-old 28th Māori Battalion veteran Haare Te Nuku Ratana was buried with his ancestors.
Noel Raihana says, “He was a very humble man who didn't really talk much, but when it came to entertaining, I would ask him to play the piano he never made a big deal, he'd just stand up and play the piano, and he was very good at it."
But the tune is a sad one today for his fellow friend Robert Gillies, the last remaining soldier of B Company.
Gillies says, “I have thoughts of sorrow for those who returned to this day we have become only a few there are only nine of us left in New Zealand.”
Harry's mokopuna Donte Kelly was inspired to follow his grandfather's footsteps. He is currently serving in the NZ Air Force and says his koro was against his grandson joining the Army.
Donte Kelly says, “I would spend time with him when I was on leave. My father and grandfather taught me all the work to be done on the farm.”
Haare Te Nuku Ratana was one of 18 soldiers from Tūhoe who returned from WWII.
He's survived by his children and grandchildren and was taken to Te Tawa Kaiti to be buried.