HERO

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New Zealand as a child on ‘‘strug­gle street’’ and then made it to the top, Gal­la­her’s life was a suc­cess story in so many ways, Pass­chen­daele So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Iain MacKen­zie said.

He was mod­est, ba­sic, quiet and just got on with it, qual­i­ties which were very well re­spected in the New Zealand psy­che, MacKen­zie said. ‘‘New Zealan­ders are a bit ret­i­cent to have big he­roes . . . but it’s his unique po­si­tion as a rugby leg­end and also some­one with con­sid­er­able war ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

Gal­la­her’s rugby ca­reer be­gan in Auck­land in 1895 where he played for a num­ber of clubs

be­fore be­ing cho­sen to play for New Zealand on the 1903 tour of Aus­tralia.

After the Bri­tish tour, Gal­la­her re­tired as a player and be­came a se­lec­tor for Auck­land and New Zealand for most of the fol­low­ing decade.

De­scribed as a pleas­ant, mod­est, like­able chap and a com­pe­tent or­di­nary sol­dier, the tow­er­ing rugby great shouldn’t have been in the com­bat zone at all, given he was in his mid-40s.

But after hear­ing of the death of his younger brother at war in 1916, Gal­la­her con­cealed his age and vol­un­teered.

It was this white lie to avenge his fallen brother which even­tu­ally led to his death. On Oc­to­ber 4, 1917, Gal­la­her was shot in the head and died the next day.

Since 1924, All Black teams play­ing in Bri­tain and France have made pil­grim­ages to his grave at Nine Elms Bri­tish Ceme­tery near Poperinge in Bel­gium.

There have been months of cen­te­nary com­mem­o­ra­tions in Europe to mark the Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele. These will also in­clude a New Zealand na­tional com­mem­o­ra­tion to be held on Oc­to­ber 12 in Bel­gium near the Tyne Cot Ceme­tery where more than 500 New Zealan­ders are buried.

Fields of Re­mem­brance Trust sec­re­tary Ju­liana Austen said the Orig­i­nals tour Orig­i­nals tour, and then the un­ease after the Pass­chen­daele cam­paign, both con­trib­uted to a sense of na­tion­hood and in­de­pen­dence in New Zealand.

Dave Gal­la­her should have been too old to serve in the Great War but con­cealed his age to en­list.

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