Sergeant George Nepia was one of 27 staff repatriated from Malaysia and Singapore and his family was escorted back to Rangitukia today.
After 64 years, brigadier George Nepia is on his way home.
Niece Huinga Nepia says: "It would mean so much for my grandmother Huinga, it started with her." The cry in her heart is now in me and for a mother to lose her son and not have him buried – this means so much to us. "
Nepia died at the age of 24 during an accident abroad. His family still struggles with his loss, knowing that he was a young man with a lot of potential.
Huinga says: "Maybe he was the All Black in our whānau, he was a very good rugby player, he was the first XV in Gisborne Boys' high school, and at the age of sixteen he was also the boss of Gisborne Boys & # 39; he was also dux.
Cousin Reverend Brent Swann says: "This is the real rangatira that was cut down, it is a great loss, not only for our family but for the entire Ngāti Porou."
A special service was held in Tikitiki Church, where Nepia's parents were the first couple to be married, and where his tupuna was also lost by war, are commemorated in a stained-glass window.
"It is a memorial for the soldiers who died in the First and Second World War and Dee-Dup Sergeant George Nepia is also part of that", says Swann.
He then arrives in Hinepare Marae, where he spends the night for a final service.
Huinga says: "This means so much to me and my Whanau."
George Nepia will be laid tomorrow morning at the cemetery on Okaroro.