A memorable and moving ceremony took place in Dannevirke on August 31 as Private Owen Dawson was repatriated from Terendak Military Cemetery just north of Malacca on the Malaysian Peninsula to the Dannevirke Cemetery.

Private Dawson was one of 27 repatriated to Auckland on August 21 where families were treated to a formal and moving ceremony in a hangar at Auckland's Mangere Airport.

An honour guard of RSA members stands as the casket is taken from the ceremony.
An honour guard of RSA members stands as the casket is taken from the ceremony.

There Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, "On behalf of the Government and people of our nation I want to tell you that we value the service and contribution of these people to our nation. They are now home amongst us and reunited with their whanau."

Private Owen Dawson was killed in Malaya in 1964 at the age of 23 — the result of an accident — while a member of the IRNZIR serving with the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade.

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Owen was one of seven children born to Nora and Bill Dawson, three of whom survive today, Margaret (Webb), Peter and Kevin, who were present at the repatriation.

The Service of Remembrance in Dannevirke took place with all the pomp and precision the NZ Army could muster.

Six 1RNZIR bearers in slow step brought the casket into the Dannevirke Bowling Club where a welcome by Peter Dawson, a eulogy, Private Dawson's military history, pictorial memories and a poem were presented to the congregation.

The casket was then carried to the hearse through an honour guard of RSA members including Private Dawson's commanding officer Retired Colonel Brian Wells who presented the eulogy at his first burial 54 years ago.

The repatriation has been a long journey for Owen's sister Margaret who as the eldest sibling had to manage the process from the initial letter from the NZ Defence Forces in December asking if her family wanted Owen to be returned.