The remains of 28 defence force personnel who died overseas return home today, several them are Māori servicemen.   

George Nepia carried the name of his All Black legend father and his whānau say his return has been a long time coming but they're elated.

Nepia was only 24 years old when he died in Malaysia, John Manuel shares some memories of Nepia.

“Tōna matenga, ahakoa kei te tohutohu a ka kite a he mate kei roto. Ka tupou ki waenganui te maina me te tangata, ā, ka mate.”

It’s been confirmed that Nepia’s remains will be interred at a cemetery in Rangitukia.

He will be welcomed back on to his ancestral marae, Hinepare, where his whānau are awaiting his final return.

Although the whānau are happy, his nephew, also called George Nepia says it has taken numerous letters and lobbying to the NZ Defence Service to get uncle home.

“It would have been nice to have had it happen earlier. I know that my grandparents were constantly writing and asking why he wasn't bought back. Other members of my family petitioned the defence force as well.”

Today his remains will arrive in Auckland and his tangi commences tomorrow.

He will be interred next to his parents on Thursday.