Medal found in playground

Rare decoration lying in Island Bay park

TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 06/05/2014
Iafeta Laulau
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ
MYSTERY MEDAL: Newlands’ Iafeta Laulau with the World War I British War Medal he found in a park last week. ‘‘Someone obviously is going to be pretty devastated to lose it.’’ 

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He served at Gallipoli and was wounded in action in France - but how one of Puruma Pararaki's war medals ended up at a Wellington playground is a mystery.

Iafeta Laulau found the medal at Island Bay's Shorland Park on Thursday last week, sitting on safety matting beside the long slide, possibly left there from Anzac Day ceremonies.

Now he wants to return it to the owner - who he presumes must be a member of Pararaki's family.

"Someone obviously is going to be pretty devastated to lose it. It's probably their only link to the Great War."

All he initially had to go on is the inscription: 16/309 Pte P Pararaki NZEF.

Defence Force medals policy adviser Jack Hayes dug into the archives yesterday and discovered Pararaki was a member of the Maori Pioneer Battalion in World War I.

He entered the war in October 1914 and would have served at Gallipoli. He then headed north to France, where he was on the Western Front, and was wounded in action in July 1917.

He was sent for treatment in England before being discharged on medical grounds in March 1918, and sent back to New Zealand. Pararaki died in Rotorua in 1956.

While it is unknown how his medal ended up in a Wellington playground, Hayes said it was common practice for Maori after a tangi to distribute war medals around the siblings.

Pararaki was entitled to three service medals, and Hayes said the one found at Island Bay appeared to be the British War Medal.

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- The Dominion Post

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