With another “free day” on Wednesday, opportunities were taken to swim with the turtles, cruise on the lagoon with Captain Tama or walk over the island!  We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our reunion, apart from the odd fleeting rain band, it was simply magic!


ANZAC Day and the moon was still in the sky as we stood in Avarua at the cenotaph at 5am. With a large community, and tourist attendance, formalities got underway to the beat of drums. We watched proudly as our Victor 4 veterans, and Bob Derwin who was honoured as Parade Commander, led the way in the procession and march. Laying of our Victor 4 wreath was made by Pam Miley-Terry and Geoff Dixon, and once again we made newspaper, and TV news coverage! Well done Dicko, you did us proud with that incredible news interview following the parade at the CIRSA “gunfire breakfast”! As afternoon arrived, we descended once again on Trader Jacks and what a turn out!  Making the most of the moment, many photos were taken, and more memories (Bill and Pam dancing to Elvis), and friendships were made.

​​RAROTONGA, cook islands 2024



Reunion REPORT


At 4pm on Saturday 20 April 2024, 13 months after the unanimous decision in Pohara to host our next reunion in Rarotonga, 63 Victor 4 veterans and their whanau left a wet and windy autumn day in Auckland behind, and began our flight to paradise. With a further 24 Victor 4 veterans and their whanau already “on island”, we were set to experience the reunion of a lifetime. 


Touching down at Rarotonga International Airport at 10pm on Friday 19 April, we stepped off the plane into a lovely, warm 27-degree Rarotongan night, where everyone proceeded to clear customs and board transportation to accommodations.


As Saturday dawned, I made my way to the CIRSA to assist my sister and her amazing crew of ladies with the set up for our Meet and Greet and Company Dinner to be held later that day. During this time, many of the group took the opportunity to visit the local Punanga Nui Markets in town, to check out the local fare and experience a bit of island life. However, I have it on good authority that a few of this group, would much have preferred to be sitting at Trader Jacks!


As 3pm arrived, so did we all at the CIRSA, to be officially welcomed onto the premises with a “turou”, by CIRSA President, Pira Wichman. And what a fantastic Meet and Greet we had, with many not having seen each other for years, and with new acquaintances being made. Dinner followed in the form of a traditional island style “umu kai” feast (sponsored by Bill Doherty, meitaki), a live band, and the celebrations carried on through the lovely warm evening.


Sunday dawned with many taking the time to relax and check out the island way of life, before our next adventure on Monday afternoon to Bill’s local, Trader Jacks!  And what another fantastic gathering we had, with our merchandise being worn everywhere you looked, we should have named it “Victor 4’s” for the duration of our weeklong stay! Another “meitaki” here to Bill Doherty, for your generosity to all your whanau in provision of endless bar cards, wow.


After a relaxing, jovial evening at Traders, we made our way back to the CIRSA on Tuesday morning for our 9am AGM. Following this, and a still yet to be decided decision on the location of our next reunion, our Memorial Service got underway at 11am.  As the Victor 4 veterans entered the building, each were presented with a *maire ei*. In a service led by David Page, the fallen were honoured and remembered, and tributes to the Servicemen and Servicewomen of the Cook Islands were made. Wreaths were laid by Bill Doherty and Dina Matapo on behalf of Victor 4, and Gail Eraio and Denis Dwane on behalf of the CIRSA. I’d like to make a special mention and thank you here, to my sisters Angela and Diane, and my mum Barbara, for your amazing talents at putting together a beautiful lunch for us. And, with the entire service being captured by the Cook Islands News, we woke on Wednesday morning to frontpage newspaper coverage, giving us many more memories to take home. What an absolute tribute to Victor 4. 


*a garland made from the Maire vine only found on Mauke and used to depict “status” and importance of an event.

Acknowledgement


The following Raro photos & videos are courtesy of; Grant Williams, Dave Page, Gabrielle O’Connor, Anne Clarke, Aaliyah Tainui, Denise & Angela Doherty, Tina Peters, John Edwards, Gordon Benfell, Melina Etches (Cook Island NEWS) Reporter, Ngahuia Hohepa, Trevor Thompson, Olivia Pehi, Amiria Filimafua, Jake Reihana, Jody & Kelly Dixon.


I will also like to ack the work of my son Shane who took some and placed all supplied photos & videos onto our image gallery hosting site. Meitaki Shane. May I also mention my son-in-law, Dave Langdon who helped in getting the end result with his ‘tecko’ skills.


Meitaki........Dicko

And then just like that, before we knew it, Friday 26 April was upon us and it was time to depart. On my way to Aitutaki, as I flew over the Boeing 777 on the runway waiting to take my Victor 4 whanau home to NZ, I couldn’t believe it was all over. Reflecting now on the past 13 months I can only say how proud I am to be a part of Victor 4, and how privileged I feel, to have been able to organise this event, our 2024, Victor 4, Rarotonga Reunion, on behalf of the Doherty whanau.


Meitaki ma’ata, ka kite kotou katoa akonei. 
Thank you, see you all again soon.


Denise Doherty 

6 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) BATTALION  •  SOUTH VIETNAM 1969 – 1970

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VICTOR FOUR COMPANY

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