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Belgian war medal given to NZ family

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/04/2016

It took nearly 100 years, but a Belgium medal destined but never given to a New Zealand woman for her war efforts has finally being delivered to a member of her family.

Mary Ann Wick was awarded the Order of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium in 1917 for her fundraising in Auckland which was sent overseas to help soldiers wounded in Belgium in World War I.

She was inspired to grow vegetables at her Takapuna home and organise a market garden to raise funds by her son Jack Moore who had enlisted in the Australian army and was fighting in Belgium.

Mary Ann Wick died in 1918, aged 62, soon after the Belgium government wrote telling her she had been awarded the medal.

The citation arrived but the medal never made it to New Zealand.

Her great, great-granddaughter Angela Te Wiata began a search to find out what happened to the original medal and have the Belgium government present it or a replica medal to her family.

Now, 99 years later, an original version has been given to her husband Te Kani Te Wiata - who is a warrant officer and Maori cultural adviser - following an ANZAC Day dawn service in Belgium.

"Kani rang me soon after and it was an incredible call," Mrs Te Wiata said on Tuesday.

"My mother Pamela Gilbert was trying to get this resolved for many years before she died in 2004 and to have this outcome is emotional beyond belief. I cried so many tears of happiness."

Belgium awarded medals to 32 New Zealand women, mostly nurses, for their war efforts.

Twenty-one of their graves have been found and the Belgian government is paying for them to be restored with new headstones, which will include an image of their medals.

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