Wairarapa's last 28th Māori Battalion veteran Kingi Matthews has passed away at 88 years old and is currently lying in state at Pāpāwai Marae in Greytown.
The Kahungunu and Rangitāne descendant joined the Battalion in 1944, and was sent to Italy with the 12th Reinforcements.
His talent extended to the rugby field, being the oldest surviving Māori All Black and a past president of the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Union.
Today community groups, iwi leaders and officials from the New Zealand Army paid tribute to him before he is buried on Wednesday.
Paora Ammuson says, “We've had many visitors come to the marae, from tribal groups to community groups here in Te Wairarapa. He was Te Wairarapa's last surviving veteran who went to war with the 28th Māori Battalion in D Company a.k.a The Cowboys.
Our grandfather was pretty skilled on the rugby field too, and was the oldest surviving Māori All Black from that era.”