5th Battalion (Wellington, West Coast & Taranaki) Reunion February 2021
A couple of hundred former members of New Zealand’s 5th Battalion (Wellington, West Coast & Taranaki) gathered in Whanganui over the weekend of 26 – 28 February 2021. As you might expect, it was a great event and this post is really just a shout-out to the organising committee from the 5WWCT Regimental Association for putting together an excellent opportunity to catch up with old friends and tell yarns. Unfortunately, the ex-pat Kiwis in Aussie had to do their gathering separately due to Covid.
That has also offered up the opportunity for me to introduce an interesting piece of history that is represented in the headline. We’ve all heard of “Professor Emeritus XYZ” in academia and similar for retired senior members of the clergy. In previous articles, I’ve discussed the challenges associated with the use of the term “veteran.” As it turns out, the original Latin use of Emeritus (Emerita for females) is to denote soldiers who have served their time. I say, let’s bring it back.
There were several great components to the weekend. A weapon simulator was set up in one of the buildings so older members could experience the advances that have been made in soldier training since they served. A highlight for me was the demonstration and work party at Aramoho Cemetery put on by the NZ Remembrance Army. Major Emeritus Simon Strombom DSD, assisted by two local coordinators, showed a group of us how to clean service headstones with Bio-Shield® followed by restoration of the lettering detail with Resene paint followed by re-polishing of the granite surface. All restoration products are donated. Here’s a few snaps of the work:
The Saturday gathering took place under the watchful eye of the unit’s pouwhenua on a balmy Whanganui evening surrounded by the nostalgia of 30×20 tents and some bar leaners. The Pipes and Drums entertained the crowd while a fantastic hangi was being raised. Apparently, there was even some dubious inter-regimental activity with a miniature cannon being fired around the time that speeches were scheduled to begin. Thankfully, due to the age of the crowd, most people probably didn’t hear it (or the speeches). The music gave way to karaoke and all seemed well until the announcement of a covid lockdown that night put paid to the Sunday programme (no more than 100 people allowed at Level 2 alert).
We took a quick group photo and Lieutenant General Emeritus Sir Jerry Mateparae (former Adjutant of 5WWCT, former CDF and former Governor-General) presented a medal. Brigadier Emeritus Hon Tim Brewer and eight other former Commanding Officers made the weekend as well as a host of ex-Adjutants including Major General Emeritus Maurice Dodson MC (former CGS) and a covert group of ex-RSMs and cadre NCOs.
It’s always risky starting to name people because there’s a good chance that I’ll miss someone out but thanks anyway to the organisers (and to Dave Tregoweth for the list corrections):
The organising committee were:
- David Tregoweth – Chair
- David Wilks – Deputy Chair
- Mike Chivers – Secretary
- Julia Lile – Treasurer
- Teresa Cousins – Commercial
- Ken Barber – Local Rep
- Solomon Vaetoru – Military Liaison
- Nga Apai – Catering and Venue
- James McCarthy – Merchandise
- Jason Dudley
- Sean Trott
- Catherine Reaves
- Amanda Housiaux
- Brent Manning
- Rangi Trinder
- Rangi Abrahams
- Zane Gracie
This seems a good opportunity to let you know that Sgt Daniel Pinfold and I, with the blessing of the late SSGT Murray Moorehead’s family, will be publishing a second edition of the unit history “First and Strong” that will bring the story forward from 2001 to the merger with 7th Wellington & Hawke’s Bay Battalion in December 2012 to form the current 5/7 Bn. Dan is already collecting stories and pictures. We’ll be asking you to indicate your interest in copies of the new book and also potentially a numbered, leather bound collector’s version in the coming months.
All the best
Lieutenant Colonel Emeritus Simon Ewing-Jarvie (CO 5WWCT 2000 – 2002)
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