Stat­ues un­veiled in Ha¯ wera

Wartime brav­ery hon­oured

Stratford Press - - News - By ILONA HANNE

100 years af­ter two Ha¯ wera men were awarded the Victoria Cross for their brav­ery dur­ing World War I, their de­scen­dants watched as stat­ues of the two men were for­mally un­veiled in a memo­rial gar­den in Ha¯ wera on Satur­day.

“Of the 11 New Zealan­ders to have re­ceived the Victoria Cross dur­ing World War I, it is pretty im­pres­sive two of them came from Ha¯ wera.”

South Taranaki District Mayor Ross said he was pleased the South Taranaki RSA and the South Taranaki District Coun­cil had been able to work to­gether to cre­ate the gar­den “which will be en­joyed by gen­er­a­tions to come”.

The gar­den, de­signed in the shape of a Victoria Cross, and lo­cated near the two streets named af­ter the two men was a cen­ten­nial pro­ject for the South Taranaki RSA, which cel­e­brates it 100th birth­day this year.

Speakers at Satur­day’s for­mal cer­e­mony in­cluded the mayor, MP An­drew Lit­tle and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the French am­bas­sador to New Zealand.

For Peter Lau­rent, Henry Lau­rent’s son, Satur­day’s cer­e­mony was “very mov­ing”. He had trav­elled from Whanga¯ rei to see his fa­ther’s statue un­veiled and said he was “very proud” his fa­ther had been hon­oured in such a way.

Peter, who was the mid­dle of three brothers, said when the brothers were grow­ing up, they weren’t re­ally aware of their fa­ther’s heroic ac­tions.

“He didn’t talk about his ex­pe­ri­ence in the war re­ally, un­less we asked him di­rectly about it. But we were very for­tu­nate to have been able to travel with him when he went to re­ceive the VC. Later one, when we were older we asked more about it and re­alised what a big thing it was.”

His fa­ther, said Peter, was a very good man.

“He took us fish­ing, he did lots of things with us. He was a great fa­ther.”

For sis­ters Irene Waller, Pat Eynon, Mar­garet Flem­ing and

San­dra Sole, be­ing present at the cer­e­mony was very mean­ing­ful.

The four women, nieces of John Grant, all still live in Taranaki and were joined at the un­veil­ing by Grant’s great niece Shona Waller and great great niece Zoe Waller. Zoe has grown up in a world very dif­fer­ent to that of her distin­guished rel­a­tive, but was pleased there is now a statue of him in her home town. Mayor Ross Dun­lop said Haw­era was very proud of its two he­roes.

“I think it is great that 100 years on, so many peo­ple came out to­day to hon­our the ac­tions of th­ese men.”

Sergeant Grant’s nieces, great niece and great great niece were present to see their rel­a­tive hon­oured.

Peter Lau­rent stands by his fa­ther’s statue.

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