Park named after Vietnam veteran

Last updated 12:13 02/06/2011

HERO RECOGNISED: Vietnam veteran Chas Parekura's family is pleased his name is going to be used for a park in Rolleston. Seated in the park are his granddaughter Taleah Parekura-Nui, 10, daughter Virginia Parekura-Nui, widow Doreen Parekura, and grandson Tahemaka Parekura-Nui, 12.

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A Vietnam War hero who died of cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange will be honoured in his home town of Rolleston.

A reserve in the town will be renamed Parekura Reserve in honour of soldier Taare (Chas) Parekura.

Agreement to use his name for the reserve follows two years of wrangling between the Paparua Templeton Returned and Services' Association and the Selwyn District Council.

Association president David Sands said most Rolleston place names commemorated writers and musicians.

The council turned down the association's application in 2008 for the use of Parekura's name.

Sands said that probably reflected the longstanding government and public antipathy to the Vietnam War.

However, a "healing process" had since begun and the council had relented.

Sands said Parekura was a model soldier, a public-minded resident of Rolleston and a longtime senior non-commissioned officer at Burnham Military Camp.

Parekura received a mention in dispatches for saving the life of a fellow Kiwi soldier in Vietnam in 1971. He served there as a rifleman for most of that year.

Parekura joined the army in 1969 and retired, with the rank of warrant officer, in 1989. His death in 2004 was attributed to being soaked in Agent Orange while on jungle patrol.

United States aircraft sprayed the defoliant to clear jungle areas used by enemy troops.

Parekura was awarded the Silver Rose, a United States' medal for soldiers affected by exposure to the defoliant. His brother, Lou, also died of cancer attributed to Agent Orange exposure.

Doreen Parekura said the naming of the reserve was "a privilege" for her husband and their family.

Their daughter and grandchildren always attended Anzac Day services, and the grandchildren, aged 12 and 10, proudly wore their grandfather's service medals.

She was pleased Vietnam War veterans were at last receiving recognition after being shunned on their return to New Zealand.

The Parekura Reserve will be officially named at a dedication service on June 11.

A plaque commemorating Parekura's service will be unveiled and blessed. The plaque is set into a rock provided by the army.

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- The Press


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