There is peace at the heights of Kaweka J, the highest point of the Kaweka Ranges, and it would have been a peaceful place for 11 young men who were members of the Heretaunga Tramping Club when World War II broke out.

Those 11 men left the peace of their ranges and their tramping expeditions and went into the turmoil, terror and brutality of war.

They did not return, but their names are firmly in place at the summit of Kaweka J where they once would have taken in the widespread landscape of Hawke's Bay below.

Seventy years ago the members of the club built a rock cairn at the summit, and upon the cairn they placed a bronze plaque bearing the names of the 11 young club members who lost their lives during World War II.

The rocky cairn at the summit of Kaweka J which bears the names of 11 tramping club members who died in World War II. Photo / Supplied
The rocky cairn at the summit of Kaweka J which bears the names of 11 tramping club members who died in World War II. Photo / Supplied

Since 1948, as close as possible to the Armistice Day of World War 1, November 11, club members have made the two-hour trek from the Makahu Saddle to the summit of 1725m.

"And we will always continue to do that," Joan Ruffell from the Heretaunga Tramping Club, and one of the 21 who made the trek this Armistice Day, said of the "very special" outing.

"It is the time to remember those men, and for the club of that time to lose 11 of its members was tough."

While no descendants of the fallen troops made the journey this time, there was a wide spread of current members aged from 12 to 78.

They set out at 8.30am to ensure they had plenty of time to be there for their 11am cairn gathering and were blessed with good weather.

"Some years the weather has turned to custard but this time it was really nice — a bit of early fog but that cleared," Ruffell said.

As they took in the landscape, and again took in the names of the 11 fallen, club member Peter Berry played The Battle of the Somme on a whistle.

"It was so silent up there — it was a beautiful moment," Ruffell said.


They then carried out a small service where the youngest tramper, 12-year-old Carlee Eggers and the oldest adventurer 78-year-old Graeme Hare, placed the wreath of remembrance on the cairn.

Some club members then stepped forward to add their thoughts to the service.

They talked of those who did not return but also of the battle-worn troops who did — and had to try to reintegrate into life.

"So many of them struggled to do that," Ruffell said.

"My father served and after he came back he never spoke about it."

The tramping crew then held a two-minute silence — and atop the summit it was indeed, totally silent.

But as is now a celebratory tradition on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time peace was declared was greeted with sounds of joy.

"We made a lot of noise — we took whistles and bells up with us."

Ruffell said it was important that the annual trek be made out of respect for all those who served, in all conflicts.

Among them "their" 11 trampers passed: B Beachey, WE Boyd, CL Bright, DW Callow, J Cowlrick, FJ Green, K McLeay, M McCormack, H W Meldrum, B Wyn Irwin, B Woolcot.

by Joan Ruffell

No more to tramp the ranges high, where rock and snow meet wind and sky, These strong young men, adventure seeking, To foreign lands went, Unsuspecting of the horrors that await them, Hunger sickness, death,destruction, Their families would wonder why, so many of them had to die, For war it is a futile thing, So here today, remembering, We raise them up and lift them high, Here where the Cairn meets wind and sky.