By Cameron Slater ( *republished)

I made this video some time ago for Skippy, my father-in-law.

Some of the photos in the video were taken by him at Nui Dat.

He was an Aussie serving with the NZ Army…he trained at Puckapunyal, Canungra and Singleton…many of the places mentioned in this song he has been to.

Skippy in Viet Nam 1966 wearing the Greenstone tiki given to him by his future wife.
Skippy at Nui Dat, 1966

Editors note: The tiki worn in both photos by my Father is now in my possession. It was given to him by my Mother before he left for Vietnam. It was purchased and therefore likely carved in Opotiki.

Some red soil from Vietnam still clings to it. I haven’t washed the tiki for that very reason. The red soil is part of it’s history.

The BFD Skippy’s tiki that he wore all through his service in Vietnam.

The tiki comes with a story.

My father was in 161 Battery. He was an Australian on secondment to the New Zealand army, and his fellow soldiers called him Skippy. He has told me a number of stories about his time in Vietnam. One that sticks in my mind was how he and others manned the guns through the famous battle of Long Tan and then collapsed exhausted beside them while guarded by other soldiers as they slept.

There is a story about what happened to his Pounamu tiki that my mother gave him before he left for Vietnam.

The BFD This tiki comes with a story…

My father wore it into battle. It was a pounamu tiki hand-carved in Opotiki. It was his lucky charm. During one battle to take a hill in Vietnam, he lost it. He was very upset as it had been his talisman as my mother had given it to him. They were pushed off the hill and later attempted to take it again.

During one of the attempts, my father found his pounamu necklace hanging on a piece of wire. It may have been a fence or barbed wire I am not sure. He put it back on and in that attempt to take the hill they were victorious.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...