Uepohatu reunion - Waipaina Awarau toast to Absent Comrades


Waipaina Awarau gives the toast to Absent Comrades at the reunion of ex-service personnel held at Uepohatu Marae in 1947.  His toast is followed by the Last Post and Reveille played by Lt Rua Kaika. Kaika along with Pine and Hone Taiapa also carved the house.[1

See the reunion 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.


Your Excellencies, Chairman, ladies and gentlemen.  I deem it a great honour and a privilege to have been given the task tonight of proposing that very important toast, the toast of absent comrades.  Many of you know, that quite a lot of them now rest on foreign fields.  In the course of a few hours, we shall be joining with our fellow citizens in the dedication of a carved dining hall to their memory. Such dedication will bring back to mind other edifices. This edifice which will be open tomorrow will stand as a mute reminder to you and to me and to those who come after us of the exacting price which the state demands of its citizens.   

As ex-service, as ex-members of the fighting services such dedication will bring back to our minds and memories those wooden crosses which now bedeck the slopes of Gallipolli, the arid wastes of the Western desert, the poppied fields of France and Italy and all other battle fields, areas which have become part and parcel of our own homeland. Hallowed and enriched by the sacrifices of our comrades, many of them. 

While we remember the fallen, let us not forget the living, many of them today are carrying the scars of war. To them we hope will come speedy relief and recovery.  Not a few have found homes in distant lands, but the majority like you and me are spread throughout the length and breadth of our land. And have found and are endeavouring to find places for themselves in the civic life of the community.  I am sure, had they been given the opportunity they would have been happy to be present with us here tonight.

Before asking you gentlemen to stand and help me honour this toast, may I commend to your notice and for your sympathetic interest, understanding and assistance the noble work which is being done by heritage (?).  That body of which our Governor General, his Excellency is patron, and which without ostentation has been doing so much for those who suffered most, the widows and dependents of absent comrades.

Gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen may I ask you to stand and drink and honour this toast of absent comrades.


[1] Monty Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, 2008, p.370


Sound file from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, ref: 43116. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Submitted by mbadmin on

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