Trevor King didn't expect a field of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to be the most memorable thing he saw on a trip to Britain last year or that he would end up owning one of the poppies.
The Whangarei man said he will never forget the sight of 888,246 blood red, handmade ceramic poppies set out in the Tower's moat as part of Britain's centennial commemoration of the start of WWI. Each poppy represented an Allied soldier who died in the Great War.
The poppy installation was called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the moat and green space at the Tower progressively being filled until the "war dead" number was reached.
Mr King said "a bunch" of his uncles were among those dead - three keen young New Zealanders who signed up, went off to war in Europe and never came home.
He and his partner Robyn had heard about the installation by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, but he said nothing prepared them for the impact.
"It was unreal, amazing, moving. Wow. When you see the sheer number, you think, holy moley, all these guys and gals died," Mr King said.
The poppies were put up for sale when the installation was dismantled late last year and Mr King bought one online. It arrived only a week ago, beautifully packaged and still packing a huge emotional punch.
The poppy will add to his family's wartime memorabilia which includes photos of uniformed grandfathers and uncles, from maternal and paternal sides of the family, who experienced WWI.
But equally, Mr King said, the sight of nearly one million poppies in one place brought home how his father Ronald suffered in WWII.
In 1941, only months after getting married, Mr King senior (Ron) was sent to Egypt with the New Zealand Army.
He served in North Africa for nearly a year before being captured by Germans and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. There he stayed for four years, the holes in his army belt, which his family still owns, showing how he became thinner and thinner.
He was one of thousands of POWs who were forced on "the death march" - walking across Germany to new camps away from the Russians taking hold in East Germany.
Many of Ron King's fellow prisoners died along the way but he survived until the camps were liberated by US forces. He arrived back in New Zealand in July 1945, trained as a motor mechanic and with his wife - who had been told he had been killed in action - bought the Maungaturoto garage.