BY GEORGINA KEKEA
‘In remembrance of the valiant service of HMNZS Moa on the 75th Anniversary of her loss to enemy action 7 April 1943. With warmest regards and respect. The men and women of the Royal New Zealand Navy’.
These are the words inscribed on a plaque now resting in the memorial garden at Henderson. Following a memorial service on board the patrol boat Lata at Tulagi harbour, the delegation then made their way to Henderson memorial garden where the plaque was unveiled.
Speaking during the event, John Utting, relative of a late crew member of the HMNZS Moa was very emotional when he spoke on behalf of their family members.
Mr Utting thanked and conveyed his family’s appreciation for this gesture where a memoir for those that died on board the HMNZS Moa can be seen and reflected on by those visiting the garden.
April 7 is a very significant date for the Utting family as it marks the time when HMNZS Moa T233 was bombed and sunk in Tulagi harbour during World war two taking down with it, their uncle John Moffat, Leading Seaman of HMNZS Moa.
The unveiling of the plaque ceremony was quite emotional as everyone reflected on the lives of those that died when the ship sank.
Commissioned into the Royal New Zealand Navy on August 12, 1941, Moa was the first of two vessels with this name to serve in the RNZN and was named after a native bird from New Zealand.
In April 1943, almost two years after its commissioning, Moa sustained direct hit from a 500 pound bomb from Japanese aircraft and sank within four minutes at Tulagi harbour.
Moa’s wreckage still remains at the bottom of the seas outside of Tulagi and is now a hotspot for scuba diving in Tulagi.