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"The land is flooded by the many tears that fall for our boys that have passed away this week."
These words, coming from Te Runaka o Awarua kaiwhakahaere Dean Whaanga at Bluff’s Anzac Day parade yesterday, described the feelings of grief the community was experiencing after four teenagers were killed in a car crash last week.
About 200 members of the Bluff community gathered with Bluff RSA members at the town’s cenotaph to remember those who had served and fought for New Zealand during wars.
However, the day was also to mourn the loss of Konnor Steele (16), Indaka Rouse (16), Kyah Kennedy (16), all of Bluff, and O Maruhuatau Otuwhare Tawhai (17), from Invercargill.
The teens were killed when the Ford Ranger they were in and a truck collided in Queens Dr on Friday.
"They were our sons, our brothers, our mokos, our friends and loved ones and we know their contributions to our community. We remember them coming here as part of their community groups, sea scouts laying wreaths and poppies."
Mr Whaanga said members of the family and friends were present at the service.
The community was hit hard by the tragic events but through shedding the tears, they could slowly ease the pain together, he said.
"Our memorial behind us names our boys who never made it home. The sacrifice for our freedom meant their lives. It meant grieving families at home ... Similar to how our community feels today."
"Lost their lives before they could live them’ — this is true for our young boys, Aroha ki te whanau, nga taonga haere atu ra."
The tragedy was also acknowledged during Bluff RSA dawn service at the memorial grove.
Bluff RSA secretary Fr Hamesh Wyatt and president Phil Dickens said it was paramount to commemorate this day, especially considering the recent tragedy and the conflicts in Ukraine.
"We need peace and mercy," Fr Wyatt said.