Veterans talk about good times

By Victoria White

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Brian Wells laid a wreath in honour of the dead at yesterday's Memorial Parade in Civic Square. Photo / Duncan Brown
Brian Wells laid a wreath in honour of the dead at yesterday's Memorial Parade in Civic Square. Photo / Duncan Brown

Gordon Paku caught up with a man at the weekend who once shot him in the head - and they had a good laugh about it.

This was just one of the incidents recalled at the biennial reunion for surviving veterans of the First Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment Gurr Battalion.

Veterans, widows, and families had travelled from around the country for the three-day event in Hastings which ended yesterday with a Memorial Parade at Civic Square honouring the dead.

This included two of their own, who had died during the weekend after being too unwell to attend the gathering.

The Battalion was based in Malaysia for the Malaysia-Indonesia conflict, when New Zealand supported the Malaysian government when their newly formed nation was threatened by Indonesian incursions.

The group's first operations were on the Malay-Thai border, followed by Pontian, Labis, and South Mallaca, and then off over the Briny to Sarawak, Borneo.

Mr Paku, 1RNZIR Reunion Committee 2016 chairman, said there were 167 battalion members still alive, which was "pretty good considering we went to Malaysia in 1963".

The reunions were intended to get those who had served together to sit, talk, and laugh about the good times.

"We don't want to talk about the bad things because we don't want to remember the bad things", Mr Paku said.

"Let's talk about the good times, that's what we want to remember."

During the weekend Mr Paku had reunited with the man who had accidently shot him in the head during their service. "He had left the gun running and I standing was next to him", Mr Paku said, "It was a sterling sub-machine gun but to us that was a baby ... I only needed eight stitches.

"We had a good laugh."

The gatherings are held in different locations every two years. While it had not been held in Hawke's Bay for about 10 years, it will be hosted here again next year at the Taradale RSA.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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