Rotarians are often at the forefront of challenging and important actions that help to make New Zealand a better place. At our club meeting on 3 March, Simon Manning, a funeral director and former President of the club, spoke movingly of his work as a member of the team responsible for Te Auraki.
Te Auraki is a Defence Force initiative to repatriate to New Zealand the remains of defence force personnel and their dependants who died while overseas between 1955 and 1971. The choice to repatriate rests with the families, who reinter their relative at a place and time of their choosing.
This was a complex and demanding task, involving liaison with foreign governments and militaries, funeral directors in the countries concerned and in New Zealand, and the families of the deceased. Not all families chose repatriation, but 35 did so.
Simon was recognised by the Minister of Defence with the Award for Excellence for his and his company's role in this unique event.