March 05, 2018
Last Maori Battalion officer Bunty Preece dies
The people of Wharekauri- Rekohu yesterday laid to rest the last officer of 28 Maori Battalion, Alfred Buntry Preece, who died on Friday aged 96.
Mr Preece, of Moriori, Maori and European descent, joined the battalion in 1943 as the end of the North Africa campaign and fought with it through Italy, being seripously injured at Cassino.
He was mentioned in dispatches for his gallantry in action against German infantry.
He went on to server in J Force in occupied Japan before returning to the Chatham Islands were he farmed, raised seven children and served as chairman of the former county council.
Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene says it was an honour to have spent time with Mr Preece and to experience the manaakitanga for which he was famous.
"He made lunch every day for his son and his whanau who worked the farm there on the Chathams and he would be toiling way there in the kitchen. It was just wonderful to have a meaty tasty stew and home made paraoa and just be able to share those special times," he says.
More than 200 people gathered at Manuka Point in the Chatham Islands yesterday for the funeral servcice for Bunty Preece, including Defence Minister Ron Mark, Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Associate Minister Willie Jackson, Mr Tirikatene, and Sir Harawira Gardiner, who has written a history of the Maori Battalion.
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