Hundreds gather to welcome VC recipient home

Formal celebrations are underway at the home marae of Corporal Willie Apiata.

A huge crowd has gathered to welcome the Victoria Cross recipient back to Te Kaha on the eastern Bay of Plenty.

Defence Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mike Shatford says Corporal Apiata is excited and nervous about today's proceedings.

Mr Shatford believes it will be the hardest of the three ceremonies held in conjunction with the awarding of the medal because the soldier's friends and whanau will be present.

Mr Apiata has laid a wreath by pictures of many deceased war heroes including the first Maori recipient of the Victoria Cross, Second Lieutenant Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu.

Mr Apiata, an SAS soldier, was awarded the Victoria Cross for carrying an injured colleague through gunfire to safety while on an mission in Afghanistan.


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