SURVIVORS OF THE ROCK – ANECDOTE #1.
INTRODUCTION: We have decided to write a monthly anecdote about HMNZS Tamaki, Motuihe Island in the hope that it will create an interest in the months leading up to the reunion in February 2020. We intend to cover a variety of topics such as: Life as a Trainee; “Do you remember?”; The history of the island and Tamaki; stories of our instructors; humorous stories/dits and invite ‘survivors’ to post their stories if they so desire.
O TATOU TURANGAWAEWAE.
“A place where we have a right to stand.
A place where we feel connected too”
In a little over 15 months a ‘Ships Company’ of former sailors who served at the original HMNZS Tamaki on Motuihe island will once again return to the place where they began their naval careers, their turangawaewae.
The ‘Ships Company’ of former trainees will be representing those who through sickness, poor health or no longer able to travel cannot be with them on the island. The wairua (spirits) of those who have ‘Crossed the Bar’ will no doubt be present.
The visit will be a very emotional journey for these sailors who went from boys to men in a matter of months. The memories of their instructors, training division, living conditions, the famous hill, those buckets of sand, the “Dunkirks”, that dreaded parade bull-ring, Sunday’s ‘free to roam” and ferries arriving full to the gunwales with young ladies, those morning swims 365 days of the year and many more will no doubt come ‘flooding back’
Life as a trainee wasn’t all gloom and doom; there was a balance of “good and not so good” instructors, we got paid, got to see the bright lights of Auckland, a movie night, played sport, some were even lucky to meet young ladies from the ferries. However, the most important thing that happened on that island was the adversity that many had to endure which forged a special bond and through that many life-long friends were made. Hopefully, we will be reunited with some of our mates again after 56 or more long years.
The main focus of this reunion is to get every ‘man-jack’ back on our island where we hope to have a plaque unveiled, a wreath laid, a short service conducted, have fun in reminiscing, spinning dits and remembering where everything used to be in the camp.
Our time on the island may have passed into history, but it is essential for us to leave something of ourselves to say that we were there, we were real and we were sailors.
“Though people may disappear, the land will remain”