Captain Arnold Reedy toasts the honoured guests in attendance at the reunion of ex-service people held at Uepohatu Marae in 1947. See the programme here.
The marae hosted events held on the 12th and 13th of September that included cultural competitions with local school children and the opening of the Uepohatu War Memorial Hall. The hall was built to commemorate East Coast soldiers who died during the two World Wars.
A reunion of ex-service people (including members of the Maori Battalion) was also held.
At the investiture held on the second day, seventeen decorations were presented to servicemen and women who had served abroad and on the home front.
The gathering was an important one, attended by thousands including the Prime Minister Peter Fraser, the Leader of the Opposition Sidney Holland and other members of Parliament. Sir Bernard Freyberg, the Governor General opened the hall and unveiled two memorial tablets inside.
Arnold Reedy was 38 and married with five children when he enlisted. He was well outside the criteria but he pushed his claim to be included in the Maori Battalion. He was concerned about the lack of enlistment. Also as a role model in the tribe he knew his action and example would be noted and followed. Reedy embarked with the Main Body. He was caught in Crete and spent four years as a prisoner of war.
Lieutenant-Colonel Awatere: Well now ladies and gentlemen, me korero Maori kia tatau i te tuatahi. Ka nui te hoihoi, a, te turituri, kia ahua ngawari.
To our Pakeha friends, a little silence would be much appreciated. We come now to our last toast on our list – our guests. Our guests of honour tonight ladies and gentlemen as you know are their Excellencies General Sir Bernard Freyberg and Lady Freyberg.
Apirana Ngata: Hikurangi haka party, e piki ki runga i te stage. Hikurangi haka party, e piki ki runga i te stage.
Lieutenant-Colonel Awatere: That would give me the greatest of pleasure to call upon Captain Arnold Reedy to propose this toast. Ladies and gentlemen, Captain Reedy.
Captain Reedy: E Awe, te ahua teretere koutou ki te piki mai ki runga i te stage. Kia ahua kamakama.
Mr President, the Right Honourable the Prime Minister – Mr Fraser, Ministers of the Crown, Mr Holland and Members of Parliament, Diggers and Kiwis, ladies and gentlemen. I am about to propose the last but not the least of the toasts for this evenings proceedings. When Sir Apirana Ngata informed me of the nature of the task allotted to me by the promoters of this admirable function I was profoundly moved. I was deeply stirred by the great honour of proposing to you all this evening the toast to our guests of honour their Excellencies the Governor General and Lady Freyberg [applause].
In so doing, I would like firstly to assure them how glad we are to have them with us during this gathering. [applause] That we welcome them with open arms and warm hearts to these premises of the intensely loyal Ngati Porou tribe. On this their first visit to the territories of their East Coast peoples both Pakeha and Maori. We have had many Governors General, but we haven’t had one closer to us than the present one. For his youth was spent in this country which he left as a young man at the call of his own soul to roam the world, at last to find the path, which finally led him to perform noble deeds and render distinguished of services to his Majesty the King and Empire.
Now that, that er, severe phase of his career is over, he is back again in the land of his youth. This time in the meridian of his life as the personal representative of his Majesty the King whom we all love and revere. He is here this time to win his peace, no less reknown than in war.
Colonel Awatere Sir, a great man from the musty pages of antiquity, has left these two sayings on record: “For all of illustrious men, the whole earth is the sepulchre,” and, “where there are praises for virtue, there the most virtuous men are to be found.” To fight for ones country with all ones might and to defend it with utter contempt for personal safety. To my mind it can only be the highest form of virtue and I submit to you tonight without fear that General Sir Bernard Freyberg VC is the personification of this virtue. Of which the real rewards and prizes are not the plaudits of the worshipping multitudes. Nor the coveted honours so richly deserved by such men as our distinguished guest of honour but the freedom and root of civilisation which the whole lot of us enjoy.
Sir Bernard’s military talents and personal prowess are embellishments of the history of the New Zealand division which will be preserved by the annals of war as a guide for the proper conduct of our future manhood. On the Whakarua Park here, the genius, the genius, the inspiring genius of our great elder Sir Apirana Ngata has given us the sepulchre, not for the mortal remains of our illustrious dead but for their undying and immortal spirit of which their great commander is the living ?.
Therefore ladies and gentlemen, it could not be more fitting that the hand which directed your sons in battle should on the morrow dedicate this shrine to their memory. Your Excellency, the remnants and veterans of two World Wars are eager to see and hear you speak. And also to feel your presence once more. And again to thank you, to thank you, and Lady Freyberg, with the bottom, from the bottom of their hearts for coming this far, to encounter the discomforts of these isolated parts to perform this sollum duty to our fallen comrades, lest we forget, lest we forget. [applause]
 Monty Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 2008, p.40
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Image: Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust