25 April 2018
New Zealand Army Staff Sergeant Jamie Tawhara will wear his great-grandfather’s medals proudly as he leads the catafalque guard on Anzac Day at Gallipoli.
Staff Sergeant Tawhara grew up at Inangahua Junction, near Reefton, and will represent New Zealand as part of the New Zealand Defence Force contingent 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.
Staff Sergeant Tawhara said it was a tremendous honour to represent 5th/7Th Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and his country as the Guard Commander.
“I’m very proud to be able to honour the service and sacrifice of All New Zealanders who fought and fell on battlefields far from home,” he said.
“Particularly because my great-grandfather was there more than 100 years ago in Gallipoli. I’ll be thinking of him throughout the trip and the battlefield tours, trying to imagine what it must have been like.
“I will remember him on Anzac Day during our services.”
His great-grandfather, Warrant Officer Class Two Frank Ernest Collier, enlisted as a trooper in the Otago Mounted Rifles and was sent to Gallipoli, landing on 20 May, 1915.
He also served in several regiments and battles on the Western Front. He was involved in the Battle of Sari Bair, and in the major actions of Armentieres in the Somme, Messines and Passchendaele.
“My great-grandfather survived Gallipoli, the Somme, Messines and Passchendaele. He returned to New Zealand and married my great-grandmother, Evelyn, eventually settling in Dunedin,” Staff Sergeant Tawhara said.
“My mum is very proud and happy that I’m going there to honour her grandfather and represent our whanau.”
There is a strong military history in Staff Sergeant Tawhara’s family, with his grandfather, grandmother, mother, father and wife all serving in the Army at some point.
“Being in the Army is about having a purpose in life apart from just earning a living. It is about the men and women beside you, and the friends you make along the way. You’ll learn more about yourself than in any other organisation,” he said.
The majority of New Zealanders killed in the First World War lost their lives in the Western Front battles of 1916-18. More than 12,000 New Zealanders died on the Western Front in two and a half years of fighting – more than in the entire Second World War.