Sixty years had passed but yesterday the remains of three NZDF men were returned home to where their families waited at Ohakea in south Rangitikei.

It was a chill wind that swept across the tarmac as the New Zealand Air Force Hercules touched down late Monday.

Kaumatua entered the Hercules where the incantation blessing carried across the tarmac to the waiting families.

The karanga from Ngati Apa called them home, as the three caskets draped with the New Zealand flag were brought from the Hercules.


Russell Beban spoke earlier to media how he felt, with his adult children and the great grandchildren, of Flight Lieutenant George Thomas Thomas Beban (MBE).

"This is one of the greatest days of my life...I feel choked up.

"I received the call out of the blue. Te Auraki was way beyond my wildest dreams," said the man who was five when his father died of natural causes, aged 40, in Fiji in 1956.

"It was impossible for us to bring him home."

"We will take him home to spend two nights with us then he will be buried in Waikanae."

Flight Lieutenant Beban's great-grandaughter Marcella Beban-France travelled to New Zealand from Switzerland.

"I am happy to be here, it's not like a funeral," said the 12-year old.

"It's like a celebration."


Colleen Walker was nine when she heard her brother Russell James Craig Moore died in an accident in Pago Pago, American Samoa.

It was 62 years ago that her eldest brother, an engineering mechanic was posted to the survey vessel HMNZS Lachlan. He died in an accident on board, aged 19.

"I cried when I heard," she said, when she was told her brother was coming home.

The emotion of the realisation that her brother was soon to arrive returned as she answered questions.

"He is going to be buried with mum and dad in Timaru.

"This is amazing. He will be welcomed home tomorrow. Quite a few people still remember him."

Made with funding from