Families welcome home their fallen relatives from Malaysia
The remains of 27 New Zealand soldiers and one child returned home yesterday after being buried in Malaysia and Singapore.
Between 1955 and 1971, New Zealand Defence Force personnel were buried in overseas cemeteries unless their families paid repatriation costs.
It's been a long battle for some families to have the remains brought back.
The return of these defence personnel was made possible after a change in government policy.
Bettina Maxwell was there to welcome her relations home and says the family is very happy with their return.
"Kei te tino koa te whānau kei te hoki mai ki te kainga. Kei te tangi ngā mātua tipuna ki tēnei rā tino whakahirahira."
Two of the 27 returning are from Tōrere.
Maxwell says her whānau will return together with them to Tōrere.
"Ā te Taite ka whakahaere ngā karakia whakamutunga mōnā i runga i te marae, ka tāpuke ia me tō mātou whanaunga Wai ki Owharerau urupā, Tōrere."
The remains of an infant were also returned.
His older brother Ruapeka Rogers remembers the hard times the family faced following the death of his younger brother.
"Dad, after a short while went on operations from Malaysia to Borneo.
"Although we were kids, we were left to grieve on our own.
"The most disheartening thing was to return back to NZ and having to leave Desmond in Kuala Lumpur."
Sergeant Isaac Leonard King was another one who was returned.
His wife Pare King says their children never met their father, so this will be a time to celebrate his short life.
"We will have him at our home for three days. I want my children and all my mokopuna to come and commit themselves to their grandfather."
Over the next few days, the families will prepare final arrangements and interments.