Return of 28th Māori Battalion taonga welcomed by whānau

By Stefan Dimitrof

The discovery of a silver identification plate, belonging to a Māori battalion soldier, prompted John Preece of new Plymouth, to search for the descendants of the recipient, Private Moki Patu, so the precious Taonga can be returned to its whānau.

This is a story of historical family connection and kindness, from a descendant of another soldier, who fought for our country.

John Preece explained that as a child he always played with the collection of medals and pins that his grandfather collected from the war. Eventually, John inherited the collection from his father once he had passed away. “I was always fascinated by them”.

Not really diving into the details of the medals it took the interest of a family member to read out the plate to realise that it was an important find and “that we needed to do something about it, we need to find this guy and his family and it needed to go back to the Patu family”.

Preece said that instead of just handing the medal into the RSA he wanted to find the story behind the medal and has since had a phone call with the whanau and is currently organising a time to meet and return the medal back to the whānau.