28 Jun 2012

Hundreds gather for Major Waititi's funeral

8:08 pm on 28 June 2012

More than 400 people gathered at Kauaetangohia Marae at Cape Runaway on Thursday for the funeral of the last commanding officer of the Maori Battalion.

Major Hone Hikitia Te Rangi Waititi, who was also known as John, died at the age of 91 on Monday.

The service was conducted by Major Waititi's brother, Archbishop Brown Turei.

Na Raihania was at the funeral with his father - one of the last surviving members of the Maori Battalion.

He says the atmosphere was sombre, but there was a strong sense of pride among Major Waititi's iwi - Te Whanau a Apanui.

Mr Raihania says people spoke of Major Waititi's reputation as an esteemed leader, but also as a doting grandfather.

He says Major Waititi's body was buried alongside his brother and sister at Cape Runaway.