Representatives from the French and Belgian governments have attended Armistice commemorations on Te Rewarewa Marae in Ruatoki, where the enlisted men of Tūhoe were honoured for their valour.
Hemana Waaka (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa) says, “Today is about showing the families who live in Ruatoki and affiliate to Tūhoe, the experiences of their grandfathers who departed over 100 years ago.”
Two military honours medals will be presented to the descendants of Puia Tamehana and Pa Te Amo. Both were two of the 75 men from the region who enlisted to fight.
Belgian government representative Dr Elisabeth Jacobs commemorated the Armistice which was signed in her country in 1918. Frenchman Olivier Schillé also attended to honour the memory of those who had died for France.
Dr Elisabeth Jacobs expressed, “Your boys from this little village at the other side of the world. They packed up, they left this peaceful beautiful place to help us, us Belgians on the other side of the world, in the trenchers, in the mud, in the war to help us to try and libraries us to make sure we have freedom.”
Among the 75 local men who enlisted, 50 were of Tūhoe descent and served overseas. 13 volunteers didn't serve overseas and the other six were Pākehā.