Nolan (Noel) Raihania, 28th Maori Battalion, C Company.
New Zealanders mourned the loss of Nolan (Noel) Tariho Rimitiru Raihania, 28th Maori Battalion, C Company at a tangi at Pakirikiri Marae in Tokomaru Bay earlier this week.
Friends, family and other returned servicemen farewelled Mr Raihania with readings, prayers, hymns and anecdotes before the guard of honour was performed and his coffin, covered with the New Zealand flag, was carried from the marae. Mr Raihnaia was in his 90th year.
In 1944, stories of war reached Noel’s home town of Muriwai on the East Coast. After lying about his age, he joined the war efforts at only 17.
Noel’s eldest son, Wirihana Raihania-White, recounted a few of his father’s words in his eulogy:
“Of course, I did not know too much about war back then. All I knew was that I wanted to join the Maori Battalion. We all did. I soon learned all about war though.”
Noel continued to be a community leader when he returned from service and was elected National President of the 28th Maori Battalion in 2008.
Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association National President BJ Clark says Mr Raihania played a significant role in New Zealand’s culture and service history.
“Nolan achieved a lot in his lifetime, including the honour of receiving the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011,” said Mr Clark.
“He was known to many as a proud, successful family man with a positive attitude and great work and life ethic.”
Mr Raihania was one of the last 6 remaining Maori Battalion members and will be greatly missed by both the Tokomaru Bay RSA and local community. Ka maumahara tonu tatou ki a ratou. We will remember him.