25th April 2016 25th April 2015
Today in Tairua we have commemorated New Zealand’s involvement and losses in WWI. There was a dawn service at the local cemetery and a civil service at the community centre after a procession of service people through the main street of town.
Today I especially remember the Somme, where my maternal grandfather, William Frederic King, who, fighting with the Irish Riflery Brigade, became one of the 40,000 men wounded on the first day of battle, who returned to the battlefield too soon after, and who lived his life as an invalid suffering from the damage that mustard gas did to his respiratory system.
I recall the trip I took last year with three other teachers and forty-two students to visit significant places in the north of France as part of a WWI commemoration project between my school in New Zealand and one in France. In the image above our students are led by our Maori teacher and sing the national anthem and the school song at the New Zealand Memorial in Caterpillar Valley. It was a very moving moment.
As usual, Maori Television makes us proud every ANZAC day. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour long programme presented by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and one of her protégés, Kawiti Waetford, as they retraced the story of his tupuna, Henare Kohere, who died at the Somme and was buried far from his family and homeland. As they visited some of the same places we visited last year, it was a moment to reflect on the privilege of living in freedom in Aotearoa New Zealand but also the privilege of being a teacher and the opportunities that the profession offers.
Thank you, Grandad. Thank you Henare Kohere. Thank you Epsom Girls.