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Cook Islands pays tribute to fallen soldiers at Anzac Day Dawn Service

Wednesday 26 April 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Features, Local, Memory Lane, National, Weekend

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Cook Islands pays tribute to fallen soldiers at Anzac Day Dawn Service
Sixty-nine-year-old Remuera Rangi was among a large number of ex-servicemen who attended the 108th Anzac Day Dawn Service yesterday. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/ 23042501

Sixty-nine-year-old Remuera Rangi was among a large number of ex-servicemen who attended the 108th Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Cenotaph at the Ministry of Justice headquarters early yesterday.

Reminiscing on his days as a young lad who joined the Territorial Force of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in 1974, Rangi says he will always treasure the memories with his colleagues training and serving abroad.

He left Rarotonga at the age of 19 after completing his studies at Tereora College and moved to Hamilton.

“My two foremen were ex-military men, they set the (military) programme for me … three months and if I like it, I still had a full-time job and military,” recalled Rangi.

“I used to drop everything just for my training with the territorial force.”

He served in the Territorial Force for over 10 years.

Rangi, who returned home in 1996, said yesterday was a special day for them and they would always remember all their forefathers and colleagues who fought during the First World War.

“I am proud of myself, I represent those who went in the First World War, my grandfather was one of the first group and he was in the short video shown today (yesterday). I am proud, I was here for us.”

Brigadier Matthew Weston, who spoke on behalf of the New Zealand Defence Force, said on Anzac Day people come together to commemorate all the men and women who served within the armed forces and especially remember those who gave their lives for their country.

Weston said the First World War brought grief and despair to homes across New Zealand. The heavy casualties at Gallipoli was a shock because New Zealand had no previous experience of the huge toll that weapons of industrial warfare would inflict, he said.

Weston acknowledged the sacrifice and service of Cook Islanders, where over 500 of them volunteered to serve in World War I, more in World War II and wars post that.

“Each generation has had its own struggle and crosses to bear but those that fought in the First World War had more than their fair share of misfortune,” Weston said.

“They experienced the world war, an influenza pandemic, an unprecedented economic depression and then an even more terrible global conflict.”


King’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters lays a wreath during the Anzac Day Dawn Service early yesterday. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23042536

Weston said the First World War was seen in New Zealand and around the world as a war to end all wars, but this was not true as conflict still ravages the globe.

He challenged those who gathered to stand up to those who have no regard for human rights or international law.

Master of ceremony Pira Wichman said he was pleased with the number of people who turned up to show their support and remember their loved ones at the Dawn Service.

Wichman said he was also pleased to see the South-East Asia veterans, who are in Rarotonga for a reunion, joining the Service.

“It is good to see so many people here this morning, I was quite humbled by it.”

The blessing of the wreaths was done by Pastor Paul Kauri, the Ode in Maori was read by the Girl Guides and in English – the Pathfinders, the Last Post – John Hinton, “Dawning of the Day” – Piper Andrew Orange and “Flanders Fields” by Boy Scouts.