The last Tuhoe soldier from B Company 28 Maori Battalion has died.
Pte Hare Natana Nuku died at Whakatane Hospital last weekend and was buried at Kaiti Cemetery last week.
Born and raised among his whanau from Waiohou, Mr Nuku grew up in Ruatoki and went to Ruatoki Native School, having to cross the Whakatane River by horse from his home at Ohotu. He grew up hunting, eeling, and according to elders, was a speedster in his young days. While playing for Ruatoki Rugby, he feared no one, no matter the size.
On his return from WWII, like the rest of his fellow soldiers living in Ruatoki, Mr Nuku started dairy farming, married and went on to have 11 children.
Mr Nuku became a staunch golf player and even in his 70s was attending the odd tournament. He was also a gifted pianist.
In 2007, Mr Nuku and Paora Kruger were the presidents of the 28 Maori Battalion and hosted the reunion at Hoko Whitu a Tu during Easter. One of the highlights of the reunion was taking the returned soldiers to the Tuhoe Ahurei at Ruatoki.
As a mark of respect for the last soldier from Tuhoe, the Ruatoki RSA branch requested through the New Zealand Defence Force that Mr Nuku be accorded full Military Honours at his burial service from Owhakatoro Marae to his final resting place at Kaiti Cemetery on Paekoa Rd where he lies next to his wife. Mr Nuku is survived by his children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren.