23 April 2018
New Zealand Army Reservist officer Lieutenant Colonel Olly Te Ua will follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather when he steps on to the battlefields of Gallipoli on Anzac Day.
Lieutenant Colonel Te Ua, who was born in Whangarei and raised in Okaihau, will represent New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) as the contingent commander at the Anzac dawn service and the New Zealand memorial service at Chunuk Bair.
This year marks the centenary of New Zealanders returning to Gallipoli to commemorate the 1915 campaign.
Lieutenant Colonel Te Ua will have the honour of wearing the Ngā Tupuwae kahu huruhuru cloak at the dawn service.
“It is a privilege to be selected to wear the Ngā Tupuwae. One of my teammates from Afghanistan wore it to Gallipoli a couple of years ago and it is great to have that shared connection with him,” he said.
The cloak’s pattern tells the story of all New Zealand military deployments overseas – the sorrow we endure for those whose final resting place is across oceans, and those who fought and returned to Aotearoa New Zealand, often with the unseen scars of conflict.
Lieutenant Colonel Te Ua’s great-grandfather, Corporal Cedric Oswald Bennett, fought with the Auckland Infantry Battalion as part of the 16th Waikato Company in Gallipoli from June to August 1915. In August he became ill and was taken out of theatre and began the long journey back to New Zealand.
Lieutenant Colonel Te Ua has childhood memories of his great-grandfather.
“Unfortunately I was too small to ask him what it was like fighting in Gallipoli. Notwithstanding that, our family connection to Gallipoli is very special to me and I am especially grateful to have the opportunity to walk in his footsteps, although in much different circumstances 103 years later,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel Te Ua is the Commanding Officer of 3rd/6th Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, the reserve battalion based out of Auckland, Whangarei and Tauranga.
“The best part of being a reservist is the ability to represent New Zealand and serve our country overseas,” he said. “The bonds developed with people who you serve with, both in New Zealand and overseas, are lifelong and this makes the NZDF such a unique organisation.
“As a reservist you can also have a mainstream career and a career in the military.”