Statues unveiled in Ha¯ wera
Wartime bravery honoured
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.