Glovers want another family to share links to wars.

As Mackenzie Glover looks forward to wearing her grandfather's four World War II medals on Anzac Day, her family is racing to find heirs to even earlier military decorations.

The Mangawhai schoolgirl's parents, David and Mariska Glover, are searching for descendants of former Matakana farmer Arthur Stanley Smith to return two medals he was awarded for his service in the Middle East from 1916 until 1919 with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.

Foremost in 10-year-old Mackenzie's thoughts on Saturday will be her grandfather, the late Victor Glover, who served in Burma and India for the British Army before migrating to New Zealand, where he remarried and raised a second family in Auckland while working as an employment officer for the Royal Foundation for the Blind.

But her parents also want another family to share their links to past sacrifices by reclaiming ownership of Mr Smith's medals, which became mixed up with Mr Glover Snr's over the years.

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His son vaguely recalls digging the medals out of a vegetable garden at his childhood home in Empire Rd, Epsom, about 30 years ago and assuming they were his father's.

"Dad was one of those staunch old-school people who never really talked about the war and even his own medals got thrown around," Mr Glover told the Herald yesterday. "I can remember finding them in different drawers through my life - and finding these other medals lying around, we put them all together."

It was only when Mackenzie's interest in her grandfather's military past grew, prompting Mrs Glover to send the combined collection to an Auckland medals restoration company to get it mounted, that the mix-up was discovered.

NZ Medals Ltd owner Aubrey Bairstow found when checking the rims of the medals that two had a different recipient and were in fact from "The Great War for Civilisation 1914-19", as imprinted on one.

The rims included Mr Smith's service number, meaning easy access to enlistment records held by Archives NZ, and traceable online through the Auckland War Memorial Museum's Cenotaph web page.

According to the archives, Mr Smith was a cartage contractor from Big Omaha near Matakana before he left for Egypt in 1916 as a trooper among reinforcements of the Canterbury regiment, which had suffered heavy losses at Gallipoli.

He is presumed to have returned to New Zealand in 1919, when he appeared on the electoral roll as a Matakana farmer, according to research by Mr Glover Snr's eldest daughter, Linda Burton.

He reappeared on the roll three more times, still farming at Matakana, but the family can find no more records since an entry in 1969 when he was in his 80s.

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The couple don't want any payment for their efforts, saying returning the medals will be reward enough. "There were huge sacrifices made by those guys - to get Smith's medals back would be just amazing," Mr Glover said.