Whanganui will host its first full military funeral in many years when Major Thomas Neville (Tom) Turner is farewelled.

Major Turner, formerly of the Royal New Zealand Infantry, 2nd Battalion, died on February 17, aged 78. His funeral service will be held at Dempsey & Forrest on Friday followed by burial at Aramoho Cemetery.

The military funeral will include Major Turner's casket being dressed by the New Zealand Army with the New Zealand flag and his hat, sword and medals.

After the service, Major Turner will be transported by hearse to Aramoho where his casket will be transferred to a gun carriage for the final section of the journey to the cemetery.


The gun carriage will be led by a military escort, a firing party and drummers.

The burial service will include a volley by the firing party and a bugler playing The Last Post.

Major Turner's son, also named Tom, said his father moved to Whanganui two years ago to be closer to family.

"He hadn't been here long but he loved being here," Mr Turner said.

"He had fond memories of coming to Whanganui as a child when it had the trams. He thought Palmerston North didn't seem like a real city, like Wellington, because it didn't have trams."

Major Turner saw a full military funeral as an experience he could give to the people of Whanganui, Mr Turner said.

"It's his gift to the city, if you like," Mr Turner said. "It was his intention to give something a bit special to the city and, in his mind, it's something Whanganui is not likely to experience very often."

Major Turner began his career after winning a scholarship to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England.


"Very few people have done that - it was a special achievement," Mr Turner said.

"He trained at Sandhurst then came back to New Zealand. He served in Malaya and then Vietnam. We lived at Burnham [Military Camp in Canterbury] for four years and dad was guard of honour when Queen Elizabeth II came to the 1974 Commonwealth Games.

"Colour television had just come in and it was such a proud moment for us watching him."

Funeral director Julie Kenny said the last full military funeral Dempsey & Forrest had been involved with was in the late 1970s.

Major Turner's funeral will be livestreamed on the Dempsey & Forrest website.

The gun carriage and burial section of the funeral will be added to the website later and will be available for viewing for one month.

People will need to contact Dempsey & Forrest for a link and password to view the additional coverage.

Major Turner is survived by his children, Tom, Tanya, Paul and Andrew, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.