27 bodies arrive back in New Zealand from Malaysia

Families of the dead await the bodies.
Families of the dead await the bodies. Photo credit: Grace Cocker/Newshub.

A three-month-old baby is among the 27 bodies that arrived back in New Zealand on Tuesday morning.

The sun broke through and rain stopped as the plane carrying New Zealand's fallen Malaysian soldiers arrived at Auckland Airport.

Families have waited more than 60 years for this moment, including the relatives of three-month-old Desmond Rogers.

Baby Desmond died in Malaysia while his family were deployed in the early '60s.  His brother, Ruapeka Rogers, says his mother struggled when they were shipped back to New Zealand without the body.

"It was pretty traumatic for mum to lose Desmond. That maternal bond between a mother and a child was very strong for mum, right up to her passing," he told Newshub.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives at the ceremony.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives at the ceremony. Photo credit: Grace Cocker/Newshub.

Mr Rogers says news of the repatriation overwhelmed his grieving mother, who died just months after learning about baby Desmond's repatriation.

He hopes his parents can now rest in peace and his baby brother can be reunited with his ancestors.

"Now rest in peace alongside the tūpuna - which is ancestors," he says.

Around 300 family members gathered at the end of the Air New Zealand terminal to greet the bodies.


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