Private Albert Rainbow was a mystery in the Piopio cemetery - a simple wooden cross with his name hand-painted on it stood at the head of his place of rest.
Rowan Miller, Waipā-King Country regional co-ordinator for the New Zealand Remembrance Army, discovered that in fact, Albert Rainbow was a pot of gold.
The World War I veteran had not received an official memorial, hence the basic cross.
Albert was a member of the New Zealand Entrenching Battalion.
The goal of the New Zealand Remembrance Army is to restore every service grave in New Zealand to the same standard as their comrades overseas, maintained in the same condition or better than the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Albert was one of only 500 New Zealand soldiers to be a Prisoner of War (POW) in Germany during World War I.
Henry James of Pirongia, Ernest Walter of Matapara and Roderick Jamieson of Kōrakonui were also among the 500.
He was killed in an accident in 1922 before his service medals had even been awarded.
Rowan successfully applied to Veterans' Affairs to have a service memorial instated for him and it was intended to have a rededication ceremony just prior to Anzac Day 2020 to unveil the new memorial.
Due to Covid-19, the rededication ceremony took place on Saturday, November 21 instead.
Approximately 30 people attended the ceremony.
Rowan gave the dedication speech at the service and told how she came to discover Albert's story.
"Thank you all for coming today, to finally present Private Albert Rainbow with the memorial he deserves," she said.
"We recognise the contributions that those who have gone before us have made."
Rowan started her veteran grave restoration journey at Aria and Piopio cemeteries.
She was astonished at how many veterans they identified in the two small cemeteries, 27 and 35 respectively.
"I had often seen the simple wooden cross with the hand-painted name and wondered' Who was Albert Rainbow?'
"I discovered that Albert was indeed a World War I veteran - but that was only the beginning of his story."
Albert Henry Rainbow was born to David and Evelyn Rainbow, of Winneleah, Tasmania on April 22, 1896. He had nine siblings.
At age 18 he left Hobart on the Paloona, arriving in Wellington during February 1915.
He undertook a medical examination for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in Te Kūiti in March 1915.
"Then I lost him in the records until July 1917 when he joined the NZEF, also at Te Kūiti. He lists his address as Piopio, and his employer as the Post and Telegraph Department.
"His next of kin was a friend, Mr Hattaway, also of Piopio. He was posted to the 33rd Reinforcements in August 1917, joining the battalion in France in March 1918.
"Only two months later, he was listed as missing, and it was June until it was confirmed he was a Prisoner of War somewhere in Germany."
Albert remained a POW until he was released in November 1918.
He returned to England before returning to New Zealand early in 1919.
"He appears to have returned to Piopio, joining the Returned Serviceman's Association and Football Club.
"He is identified as being 5ft 5 with fair complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes. I am still disappointed I have not been able to locate a photo of him!"
By 1922 he was employed by the Public Works Department to build roads.
On the evening of May 31 as he was returning to his camp at Te Mapara from Piopio, his horse fell through an undermined track and threw Albert into the river, breaking his neck.
Although his friend Campbell was with him, Albert did not survive the injury. He was 26 years old.
Ironically, on the same night a former soldier of the Boer and Great Wars, Robert Hathaway, drowned in the Waipā River at nearby Ōtorohanga according to the June 2, 1922 edition of the Waikato Times.
Robert was a bootmaker on Tuhoro St, Ōtorohanga.
The returned soldiers of Piopio organised Albert's funeral, which took place on June 2, 1922. This was recorded in the King Country Chronicle.
"Albert's family were all in Tasmania. He had passed away before his service medals could be awarded, and these were recorded as being sent to his parents in Tasmania.
"I feel like Albert is now part of our family, after spending so much time learning about him!" said Rowan.
"I am honoured that I was able to work with Veterans' Affairs to ensure Albert can finally have the honour he deserves, 98 years after his untimely death."
Rowan is grateful to all the volunteers that have volunteered and continue to volunteer to help clean up servicemen's graves.
"I would also like to acknowledge my mum, who has supported me through all my mad schemes and spent many hours traipsing around cemeteries to identify graves."
The following people helped to make the event possible: Alton Matthews and the Te Kūiti RSA Committee; Bill Wana; the Piopio residents and the Piopio Cosmopolitan Club provided refreshments; Lou Brown and the Te Awamutu RSA Committee provided the sound system and lent their time and expertise, while Rev Murray Olson took the rededication service.
To conclude her speech, Rowan read a short verse by Edgar Albert Guest.
I'd like to think, I'd like to think when life is done, That I had filled a needed post. That here and there I'd paid my fare, With more than idle talk and boast; That I had taken gifts divine, The breath of life and manhood fine, And tried to use them now and then In service for my fellow men.
Next year, Rowan will start working on the servicemen's graves in the Te Awamutu and Pirongia cemeteries.
Find out about these working bees and future updates on the Facebook page Waipa/King Country Remembrance Army