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Family on an ‘annual pilgrimage’

Among the hundreds who attended the Anzac Day service at Tīnui this year were former “Masterton boy” Graeme Montgomery and his family.

Although his sister Ngaire is the only relative still living in the district, attending the service at the village has become “an annual pilgrimage” in recent years due to Montgomery’s father Ron having made the replacement cross for the top of Tīnui’s Mount Maunsel in 1965, when the original wooden cross – put up in 1916 as part of the first Anzac service in the village – was judged to have degraded “past its use by date”.

“Dad had just set up a new joinery business, and he got the job to make a new cross,” a simple structure formed by intersecting aluminium components that nonetheless became a great source of pride for his children: “Any time we would go out to Castlepoint, we’d look to see if we could spot it: ‘oh yeah, there it is!’”

When the centennial commemorations of WWI began, Montgomery’s mother Joyce began giving him related information – along with instructions, beginning with taking part in the inaugural Rimutaka crossing in 2015, which acknowledged the 60,000 NZ troops who made the crossing between the military camp in Featherston and Hutt Valley between 1915 and 1919.

“Mum was also filling me in about what was happening in Tīnui, in particular the establishment of a track up to the cross, which meant we could finally get access to it,” Montgomery said.

“So it’s pretty much become an annual event – up from Christchurch to the service, up to the cross, then out to Castlepoint. Doesn’t get much better.”

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