Tonight is the last night of mourning for Charlie Petera (Ngāti Kurī), the last of the A Company veterans of the 28th Māori Battalion to have seen action overseas, who has died aged 92.
Private Petera was a wireless operator who communicated intelligence in Māori during the North Africa and Italian campaigns of 1941-45. In August 2014 the Whakakōhatutanga war veteran was appointed patron of the Leadership Academy of A Company, a Northland youth academy for building Māori Leaders. Despite the work involved, he said his weary shoulders were strengthened with the knowledge that the legacy of the 28th will continue on through the academy.
He is the last of the real elders of Ngāti Kurī, he had a great mind and was a repository of the histories of our people. And Ngāti Kurī continues to have great leaders to take them forward.
The last of the 'gum-diggers' is being farewelled at his beloved Wai Ora Marae in Ngātaki. A funeral service for him will take place tomorrow before he is laid to rest at Perepetua.