Topics: 28th Māori Battalion, NZ Defence Force - Te Ope Kātua

Descendants of soldiers travel to Turkey to honour their war heroes

By Hone-Haunui Rapana

It's been 100 years since the deployment of New Zealand soldiers to WWI.  This year a number of descendants of soldiers are about to follow their elders’ footsteps.

Herb Christophers is one of the four whose great grandfather went to Turkey.  He boarded the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner docked at the Queen's Wharf in Auckland, before they took sail with New Zealand poppies in honour of the soldiers.

The march of a father, a brother, a son, and of Herb Christophers, a great grandson.

Christophers says, “It's about family, it's about loss, it's about acknowledgement, it's about four of my whānau who died during the First World War.”

Christophers has been selected as the custodian of the New Zealand poppies to Turkey where he will honour the memory of his ancestors and the fallen soldiers of WWI.

“They found me.  They worked out that I was a descendant of the last man to fall in the First World War in our family and that was my grandfather,” says Christophers.

The ancestors of Otene Rewiti also fought in the war, and has been given a role to acknowledge them and the all the soldiers.

“The organisers were looking for a Māori speaker to read The Ode.  My ancestors, Wiremu Paka Reweti and his brother Wiremu Pirinihia Reweti both went to war,” says Rewiti.

The Queen Elizabeth departs tonight for Australia, to continue the commemoration services, from there they take the same journey to Gallipoli 100 years ago.