Last surviving officer of Māori Battalion farewelled on Chatham Islands

The last surviving officer of the Māori Battalion has been farewelled by hundreds on the Chatham Islands.

Alfred 'Bunty' Preece died on Friday morning aged 96.

His was the first military honours to ever be heard on the island.

Few people in the Chathams could draw Ministers and a military delegation - travelling on an air force Hercules and nearly a third of the island's population.

But Bunty Preece was that man.

"It's been a huge honour, one that my children and grandchildren, will never forget, an extraordinary honour," said Alfred Preece jr.

The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment carries the honours fought for by Preece and the famous 28th Māori Battalion.

Honours which were paid at his birthplace on the Chathams.

"Now he marches through memories, pride in his battalion surges through his body bent by years of rain laden winds that storm off southern seas to enshroud his islands," said Defence Minister Ron Mark.

A highly disciplined soldier, Preece was wounded twice, promoted to captain and mentioned in dispatches.

But for those gathered, Bunty Preece was a community man, a family man with manaakitanga - hospitality - that was hard to match.

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene said: "I was able to be privileged enough to taste that beautiful poroua and that lovely sweet swet, he was the original Masterchef."

This was a man who - as mayor of the Chathams - provoked Prime Minister Robert Muldoon by threatening to secede and join the USA.

His son Alfred junior followed in his footsteps as the islands' current mayor.

"Extremely loyal - when we had the flag debate - sorry it makes me emotional, he was completely opposed to any change in the flag for the reason that so many of his colleagues had died under that flag."

Preece jr says his father's legacy will last forever.

But his legacy from war is now only carried by just three surviving soldiers of the Māori Battalion.