Outback Maori mark Anzac Day

MICHAEL FIELD IN KATHERINE, NORTHERN TERRITORY
Last updated 12:17 25/04/2013
Katherine, Northern Territory
MICHAEL FIELD/Fairfax NZ

OUTBACK: Maori laying a wreath in Katherine, Northern Territory.

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For the first time in nearly a century, New Zealand's national anthem has rung out an Anzac Day dawn parade in tiny Katherine in Australia's Outback.

Around 50 Maori live among the 10,000 people in the small settlement south of Darwin.

During World War Two Katherine, like Darwin, was bombed by the Japanese with many of the war dead buried near here in a cemetery at Adelaide River.

Hundreds gathered just before dawn as the it was announced "something a little bit different for Anzac Day" was about to take place.

With the school choir, a group of Maori sang God Defend New Zealand.

It was plain the Australians were impressed.

For local Maori Arthur Aranui it was a matter of pride not only to sing the anthem but also to lay a wreath at the simple war memorial.

On it was a photo of nine men - a father and eight uncles who fought with the 28th Maori Battalion.

"It was a proud moment for us," Mr Aranui said.

"People here are lovely and it's a good place to live in, and we like to share out story with them."

Strikingly the group keep a strong grip on Maoritanga, and speak Te Reo conversationally.

"People here are brilliant and with the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we want to play our part," he said.

Katherine is on the Darwin, Alice Springs to Adelaide railway line. For this trip it is carrying a large contingent of Australian World War Two veterans who took part in the Dawn Parade.

Note: Michael Field is travelling on The Ghan as a guest of Greater Southern Rail

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