Whanganui Anzac veterans and their families were left upset and confused after a venue change for the ceremony for the 28th Maori Battalion.

An email sent by a daughter of a veteran to the Whanganui District Council has been obtained by the Wanganui Chronicle.

The woman, Charlene Baird, said she travelled over from Australia annually to commemorate the dawn service in her father's hometown of Patea.

As this year was the 100th commemoration since the end of World War I, Baird and her father thought they would attend the mid-morning Maori Battalion service at Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens.


"However, it was greatly disappointing to see the sudden changes to hold the 28th Maori Battalion's ceremony at the Whanganui War Memorial and away from the 28th's home monument," Baird said.

"As my father and I found distraught relatives of those who had served and had attended for many years in the gardens, mostly quizzical and upset.

"The gardens as a whole with a marked cenotaph erected for those of D company who did not return, had a minimal presence that morning, an incident that should not have occurred," she wrote.

Baird said the service was saved by Harawira Craig Pearless — a veteran, Maori orator and historian currently studying D Company and its soldiers.

"His presentation and service gave justice to those who attended, their mourning descendants and carried well to give further meaning to outside visitors in the impromptu ceremony provided."

Whanganui District Council responded to Baird in an email, pointing out the council had no jurisdiction over the events of Anzac Day, nor over Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens.

"We did not shift the service nor do we have any authority to do so," the council said.

"The decision to shift the service to the War Memorial Centre forecourt was made by the 28 Maori Battalion Association Whanganui Branch some time ago and confirmed by a letter from Ike Hunter, Association Kaiwhakahaere, in a letter to the Returned and Services Association dated March 12, 2018."


A spokesman for the RSA said the service had been advertised as being at the War Memorial Centre.

The traditional Maori Battalion service was held at the War Memorial Centre for a few years, but last year reverted back to Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens, a reserve with special significance for Maori.

Ike Hunter from the Maori Battalion association was approached for comment but was uncontactable before deadline.