The last officer of the 28th Māori Battalion has passed away and has been returned to rest with his ancestors in the Chatham Islands.

Many including military members, politicians and orators from around the country gathered on the island to farewell Alfred “Bunty” Preece. He was a war veteran who passed away at the age of 96.

According to Ron Mark, the Minister of Defence, he was the lieutenant of the Māori Battalion's D Company.

“Undeterred to earn his quest to become a member of the 28th Māori Battalion, he became a member of the D Company which was affectionately known as Ngāti Walkabout.”

He almost died at the Battle of Monte Cassino. Three months after the battle, he was back out on the field.  

According to the Mayor of the Chatham Islands, Alfred Preece, who is also the war veteran’s son, he fought overseas and fought at home for the benefit of the community.

“He was passionate about community development - growing this community. He's been concerned for a long time. Even in his later years that the Chatham's economy wasn't getting rewarded in the sense of infrastructure.”

His mother was from Ngāi Tahu on Stewart Island, however, the Chathams was his home.

According to Moriori Maui Solomon, he was also the last link to Moriori man Tommy Solomon - Maui Solomon's grandfather.

“He told me a lot of stories about grand-dad and about the time he spent taking him out eeling and floundering. I spent a lot of time with Matua Bunty over the last few years and it was a real honour to know him.”

Bunty Preece is a man who was cherished by his Chatham Islands community and widely known for his manaakitanga to his guests.

Rino Tirikatene shares he was one of those guests.

“I was able to be privileged enough to taste that beautiful parāoa, and that lovely sweet stew - he was the original Master Chef.”

Lest we forget. Takoto, moe mai e te rangatira.