Commemorations of the New Zealand effort as part of the Allied forces in the Battle of Monte Cassino are being recognised and representatives have been chosen to attend special services at the World War 2 battle site on behalf of those involved.
Already the Commander of the multi award-winning Mangawhai cadet troop, Tahlia Howard has been bestowed further honours in being one of only two New Zealand cadets selected to accompany over 100 veterans, politicians and a military kapa haka group to the services that mark the 70th anniversary for the Battle of Monte Cassino in Southern Italy.
Selected by the NZ Veterans Association, Tahlia attended the meet-and-greet assembly at Whenuapai Airbase last weekend before flying out to Darwin, Dubai, Malaysia and then to Rome.
Located about 90 miles south of Rome, Cassino is a small town home to a historic hilltop abbey which had been commandeered by the Germans in 1943, taking up strategic positions which they maintained for several months before being overthrown.
The capture of Monte Cassino came at a high price. It is estimated the Allies suffered around 55,000 casualties in the Monte Cassino campaign.
Tahlia will be schooled up by an historian as to the area and the significance of the battles and will attend several days of organised services meeting many other dignitaries and youth representatives from Montecassino.
She will also have some leisure time during the ten day trip to learn a little about her own Italian heritage.
Not new to overseas travel, Tahlia has also travelled to the USA for an inter-school ‘problem solving’ competition and had a 10-day cadet exchange to Singapore.
Now at Victoria University in Wellington studying Law and a Bachelor of Arts, Tahlia considers her time in Cadets has given her a great grounding in basic discipline in both a team situation and also rising to individual challenges.
She is also following in the footsteps of brother Romahn, who has also served as senior NCO within the Mangawhai cadet corp.
For this particular privilege, Tahlia was selected due to her outstanding results as Group Commander in both an individual and team capacity and serves as a role model for all females within the cadet movement – and a worthy representative of Mangawhai.
By Rob Pooley
SELECTED: Tahlia Howard will travel to Italy with a New Zealand contingent to commemorate the battles of Cassino.