24 Apr 2015

Honouring tipuna who died in WWI

10:07 am on 24 April 2015

A respected Ngati Toa Rangatira member hopes his participation in Anzac Day commemorations will become a family tradition to honour the memory of tipuna who served during World War I.

Maori Contingent soldiers at No 1 Outpost, Gallipoli, Turkey, 1915.

Maori Contingent soldiers at No 1 Outpost, Gallipoli, Turkey, 1915. Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library / Ref: 1/4-058101-F.

Kahu Ropata is a direct descendant of the tribe's renowned chief Te Rauparaha, who composed the haka Ka Mate Ka Mate during his reign.

It was used by soldiers who served in the Maori contingent during the war.

Mr Ropata said three of his father's brothers served in that battle but only two of them returned home.

To pay tribute to his great-uncle, who died at Gallipoli, he plans to participate in commemorations at Poupatate Marae in the Rangitikei district.

It is the first time he has taken part in the proceedings and he plans to wear medals belonging to his koro, Pahia Ropata, who never returned home and was not able to have children of his own.

Kahu Ropata said the medals had been sitting with the family for a long time but have not been displayed as they were while his elders were alive.

He said as older people die, the younger generation had not really celebrated those who had gone before.

Mr Ropata said his participation this year was about acknowledging the contribution of his koro to the war.

But he said it was also about encouraging his children to participate, and learn about their koro and others who went to war.

Mr Ropata's father Joe Ropata wanted to enlist but was forced to stay home to look after the family farm.

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