Whanganui war veteran Sergeant Pike Terewi had an emotional moment as he remembered comrades who died in Malaysia over 50 years ago.

Terewi knew three New Zealand soldiers killed during the Malayan Emergency when he served there as a 20 year old in the 1960s.

"I had wanted to travel to Malaysia and Singapore for a long time and I knew there was funding available from Veterans Affairs to pay for my travel costs.

"One day my wife Sandra came home from work and said 'Let's do it' and so we set about making the bookings."

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A very special part of his trip, he says, was a visit to Terendak Camp in Malaysia.

"The barracks looked very much as I remembered them and although our access was restricted, an RSM came along on a scooter and because we have the same rank, he gave me a special tour."

Terendak was the base of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in Malaysia until 1971 when it was moved to Dieppe Barracks in Singapore.

"The streets at Terendak still have Kiwi names like Auckland Rd and Taranaki Rd.

"It made me feel quite emotional to see them."

Terewi also visited the memorial to his fallen comrades the day after their remains, along with those of 24 others who were buried in Malaysia and Singapore, were returned to New Zealand.

He also remembered his time in Singapore where he served as an officer in a non-combat role from 1976 to 1978.

"I was just a boy when I arrived at Terendak and I had joined the army because I was lacking direction.

"By the time I served in Singapore, I had an established career that would last for 25 years."

During his career, Terewi served in Borneo, Vietnam and Antarctica where he was stationed in 1979 when the Air NZ passenger plane crashed into Mt Erebus killing 257 people.

Serjeant Pike Terewi made a commemorative visit to Malaysia and Singapore where he served as a young soldier. Photo/Stuart Munro
Serjeant Pike Terewi made a commemorative visit to Malaysia and Singapore where he served as a young soldier. Photo/Stuart Munro

Dealing with that civilian tragedy was the most traumatic experience of his military career he says.

Now 74, the veteran says his recent trip was a wonderful reflection for him and he recommends the experience to other veterans.

"You just need to book and pay for your travel and Veterans Affairs will reimburse you - it's an easy process."