We, at Te Rawhiti, have had a long and emotional association with the Returned Servicemen’s Association. The First and Second World Wars had a deep and tragic effect on the whole community.
In the First World War, 13 men served overseas on active service. In the Second World War, 18 left out of 18 eligible – none were turned down medically.
Eight men were killed, all from five families. This must be a record for any place (Ref: Soldier by Jim Henderson). In each of the following years, a ceremonial remembrance has been carried out.
Te Rawhiti community has always fostered Anzac ceremonies. The Russell RSA arrived every Anzac Day by boat from Russell to Te Rawhiti Marae to lay a wreath on the Memorial plinth. In 1970, the road was built and they then travelled by bus. From 1984 onwards, an official powhiri was given to the Russell RSA and visitors on Anzac Day. By this time, there were new returned servicemen and servicewomen from recent wars to swell the commemorations. There are Russell RSA members living in Te Rawhiti and Te Rawhiti RSA members living in Russell. Now, the ceremonies alternate with annually with Russell. Together we remember.
In recent years, younger people have attended the ceremonies, in line with the world wide interest of young people, to commemorate their lost relatives who were people they had never met.