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Featherston RSA brings in Mark

Defence Minister Ron Mark lays a wreath on the 75th anniversary of the Featherston Incident in 2018. PHOTO/FILE

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Ex-parliamentary member Ron Mark is the newest addition to the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association [RSA] in Featherston.

Mark will take on the role of being the first patron the Featherston RSA has seen in many years.

President Peter Jackson was grateful to be able to get Mark on the team.

“Given Ron’s standing as a widely respected member of the Wairarapa community, and his service to New Zealand both as a politician and a serviceman, he’s a very fitting choice.”

Mark said he was very “humbled” by the acknowledgement, and that “he doesn’t take these things lightly”.

“It’s more of an honorary and ceremonial appointment to support them,” he said.

“It’s patrons that are generally well-known. It’s an honorary and officiating role, where I can lend my support behind the Featherston RSA in anything that they undertake and that they do.”

Mark served 15 years for the New Zealand Army.

He achieved a vast number of things in those few years.

“I joined the army when I was 16 years of age.

“I went through a special school that existed in those days that trained and prepared young men for leadership roles in the New Zealand Army.

“I rose from the rank of being a private soldier and apprentice mechanic, to becoming a commissioned officer.

“I did a number of things that were pretty cool, like graduating as a paratrooper.

“I passed the SAS selection course. I passed the New Zealand Officer Commissioning Course which was a 12-month course in Waiouru.

“I served as one of the first officers to deploy to the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai.

“I was into my third tour back-to-back when I came home. I’d been helping set that operation up for 13 months. I was elevated from my appointment as a captain in headquarters to holding a majors appointment, after my boss was fired.

I came back to New Zealand to be second in command of Unit Linton. I then left the New Zealand Army and served alongside the Brits for about nine months. I was then transferred to Assault and Special Forces where I served with SAS officers and soldiers from all around the world.”

Nationwide, Mark’s contributions have been recognised and acknowledged by the RSA.

In both Templeton and Rangiora, he has been presented with a lifetime membership, as well as the National RSA President BJ Clark awarding him a services award.

Mark is extremely grateful to have been chosen for the Featherston RSA, as he said the area is an extremely important part of New Zealand Army history.

“We all think of Waiouru as being the home of the army. When actually, in WWI, the 100,000 men of military age who signed up and swore their oath of allegiance to King and country and then went off to fight all went through Featherston.

“So Featherston, we could argue, is really the birthplace of the first New Zealand expeditionary force that deployed.”

“For me, I believe the Featherston RSA have the role of keeping the torch burning, so that we never forget. Not just those who were killed, but those who were harmed or disfigured, and those who’ve suffered mentally after they returned home.

“I’m quite chuffed that in my time as a minister in cabinet that I got the opportunity to push hard for the money that was allocated through the covid recovery for projects such as the restoration of the Featherston memorial, the restoration that was done on the Anzac Hall, as well as the community centre there.”

Mark is looking forward to his future with the Featherston RSA.

“To play even a small role in helping to make that [remembering the men and women of WWI] possible is a very worthwhile thing for me to do”

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