Huntly RSA's oldest and longest serving living war veteran will be recognised on Anzac day as a life member - for as much as his time serving in World War II as his contribution to local working bees and for being a "good bloke".

Surrounded by family and friends, Bob Rowland got up at the crack of dawn this morning to attend the dawn service in Huntly as he has every year since 1950.

The 94-year-old's family only started coming with him about 10 years ago and daughter Glenys Mountford who had travelled from Tauranga said they did it to support him.

"It's a special time to have with dad and it is a special time for him. Not every family has that chance to do it and we are lucky that Dad has been around so long to be able to do that."


Today, Rowland's oldest grandson Brad Mountford had flown over from Melbourne as he did every year to attend the service with him and some of Rowland's great-grandchildren were also there to see him get the award.

Rowland, who was born in Dargaville, had been working at the Mangawhare Dairy Factory in Northland when got called up to join at 18.

He started in the Army Transport Department based in Papakura and Linton for two years before deciding he wanted a change and moving to the Air Force.

He was still tasked with driving the trucks, joking to the Herald that he never had the brains to be a pilot.

While in the Air Force he served in Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, and Bougainville and Los Negros in Papua New Guinea.

Rowlands was a joker and he and his comrades used to cause confusion by wearing their Air Force uniforms with Army hats.

However, since serving in the war Rowland said he never heard from any of them afterwards even though he kept an ear out for names he recognised.

"I've hardly met anyone I went away with. I have a look at the review - The Last Post [RSA newsletter] to see if any names stand out and I've never come across any names I remember while I was away."


After returning from the islands, Rowland was in Whenuapai when he saw an advertisement for a bus driver in Huntly and applied and got the job.

He worked for Simpsons Buses for 12 years and another 32 years as a truck driver at Rotowaro Coal mine before retiring at 62.

He said he met his wife Margaret while working as a bus driver saying they used to wave at each other as she rode past on her push bike on her way to work.

Rowland humbly laughed that he did not know why he was getting the award. "I don't even know. I don't even know what to say when I get up there."

The couple still live in Huntly and RSA members told the Herald he was an integral part of the community and a "really lovely" man. They still attended RSA events two to three times a week.

Huntly RSA president Ian Todd said Rowland and his wife attended every working bee held by the RSA.

"Any function he and his wife are there. He's a thoroughly good bloke. His wife and family are lovely."

Todd confirmed Rowland was Huntly RSA's oldest and longest serving member