Remembrance day double blessing

Te Awamutu RSA member and Waipā District Councillor Lou Brown was accompanied by Te Awamutu Cadet Kelly at the wreath laying at Pukeatua.

Sunday’s Remembrance Day service at the Pukeatua War Memorial Church was made particularly special with the blessing of a new bell and two new brass shell casings.

The shell casings were donated by the Hauraki Chapter of the Patriots Defence Force Motorcycle Club, which has had a link to the church for several years.  Their members are former and current servicemen who regularly attend services there, and the club has donated to the church in the past.

Te Awamutu RSA member Nat Tatana offered a prayer at the church’s cenotaph.

Lay minister Kathie Claypole told Sunday’s gathering the church community had been rocked last year with the theft of a brass cross and two candlesticks.  The cross was subsequently returned, left lying on the church’s back steps, but the hand-beaten Indian silver candlesticks were long gone.

She said the generous decision by the Patriots club to donate the shells, which hark back to 1941 and 1942 respectively, was deeply appreciated by the church community.

Before the service started, there was a blessing outside for the newly installed church bell. Church committee chairman Margaret Main said the history of the bell is tied to St Stephen’s Anglican Church in Tamahere.

Margaret Main, chairman of the church committee, talking about the history of the new bell, seen affixed to the church above her head.When the church was rebuilt after the 1970 St Stephens fire, her father-in-law Alfred Main was given a replacement bell from Morrinsville.  However, the original bell was recast and subsequently mounted in St Stephens, and the smaller replacement bell went into storage on the Main family farm in Tamahere.  When they moved to Pukeatua, the bell came too.

“During lockdown, I was at the church when we had a piper playing for Anzac Day, and I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a bell to ring,” she said. “In 2021, when we sold the farm, I approached St Stephens to see if we could donate the replacement bell to the church here at Pukeatua, and they agreed.”

Cambridge Brass Band bugler Doug Rose playing The Last Post outside Pukeatua War Memorial Church, newly-fitted out with its bell.

During Sunday’s service, Rev Olson cited a sentiment linked to Simone Veil, the protagonist in the film ‘Simone: A Woman of the Century’ and a woman who survived the Holocaust to become an influential politician and human rights campaigner.

“She said ‘remembering is not about the past, it is about the future’, which is something that emphasises how important it is to realise that learning about the past will create a better future,” said Rev Olson. “We should not forget the lessons of the past… particularly now as we consider the wars of the past, and the current conflicts in Ukraine, and the Israel/Palestinian war.”

The service ended with a bagpipes lament from the Te Kuiti and Districts Pipe Band’s Craig Wards.

Sunday’s Remembrance Day service at the Pukeatua War Memorial Church was made particularly special with the blessing of a new bell and two new brass shell casings.

Following the Pukeatua service, members of the RSA, Te Awamutu Cadets and guests moved to the site that once housed Tokanui Hospital, where they remembered those who returned from war, were hospitalised there and who are buried in its grounds.

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