5 Mar 2018

Farewell for last officer of the 28th Māori Battalion

9:19 am on 5 March 2018

The tangi of the last officer of the 28th Māori Battalion is being held today in the Chatham Islands.

Lieutenant Alfred 'Bunty' Preece

Lieutenant Alfred 'Bunty' Preece Photo: Māori Battalion

Lieutenant Alfred 'Bunty' Preece died on Friday aged 96.

Born in the Chatham Islands, Mr Preece initially enlisted with the New Zealand Army Service Corps in 1939, before being transferred to the 28 Māori Battalion, D company, in Egypt.

He later became the national president of the 28th Māori Battalion.

He published the book, Hoia Toa Alfred Preece, with journalist Tom O'Conner in 2012 in an effort to capture some of D Company's history and enable younger generations to remember what they did.

The book described how Mr Preece rose through the ranks to lead platoons of men from the King Country, Ngāti Kahungunu and the South Island in Italy.

In a newspaper article published in 2012, Mr Preece said he believed Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyburg captured the sacrifices of the battalion best when he wrote: "No infantry had a more distinguished record, or saw more fighting, or, alas, had such heavy casualties, as the Māori Battalion."

Defence minister Ron Mark will be among the guests at today's service.