Tinui, on the road to Castlepoint, was once a thriving community.

Today just 20 people live in the settlement, the rest on surrounding farms.

But the link with its remarkable past is as strong as ever.

"The first time in the world there was an Anzac Day memorial service was here in Tinui," Tinui Anzac Trust Chairman Alan Emerson said.


"And we've been celebrating Anzac Day at Tinui ever since."

"For Anzac Day we get about 1500 people. Now that's amazing considering there's probably 20 people that live in the village.

"We've had people from the UK, there are always people from Australia and the South Island."

At the start of WWI, Tinui had more than 1000 single men and at the start of the war there were so many volunteers Tinui had its own troop, many of whom died at Gallipoli.

After the 1916 Anzac service, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, the congregation carried materials to construct a cross on the hill overlooking the village - the first Anzac monument.

When the Reverend Basil Ashcroft returned from the hill, he called a meeting of his vestry and resigned.

"He went with the next reinforcements to the Western Front, because he decided that he had lost too many good men from around this area not to go with them," current Tinui Vicar Steve Thomson said.

He was gone for four years returning on a troop ship to Wellington Harbour.


"He grabbed all his gear and walked from Wellington Harbour to Bishop's Court and knocked on the bishop's door and said, 'I'm back, where do you want me to go?'

"And the bishop said, 'The Tinui vestry have never accepted your resignation'. So he went back down and got on the train to Masterton and was picked up by Tinui parishioners."

While Tinui has never forgotten its fallen, neither has the army forgotten the contribution of Tinui.

On Friday the army was at Tinui for their annual cricket match with locals, including in their team the great-grandson of the Rev Basil Ashcroft.

His team also included a spin bowler with the army's top job. Chief of Army Major General Peter Kelly said it wanted to retain its strong links with communities in recognition of contributions made.

"If you think about the veterans who were commemorated up there - what they would have hoped for in 100 years' time for their country and their world - this is the sort of thing they would have been fighting for, that we could preserve our lifestyle and values," Major Kelly said.

The army's involvement goes well beyond the annual cricket match, visiting schools in the area and maintaining the track to the cross while staying in the community.

Tinui's troop was part of what is now called the Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles. Its Commanding Officer will speak at this year's Anzac Day ceremony, after which the congregation traditionally retraces the steps to the memorial cross.

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