You are a true soldier… and I would gladly have given my life from yours. –Tane North
A hero passes on
There were over 400 at the Army Camp gymnasium to honour the late Elijah North. A senior officer? A distinguished veteran? No, a determined kid of 5 – nicknamed “wonderboy”. Elijah was born with a rare affliction known as microcephaly. This stunted his growth and caused serious problems for his internal organs. He was also blind and couldn’t speak. However, he was enveloped in love from his family and the incredible support of the New Zealand Army. His parents Laura and Tane are Army captains.
Elijah defied the odds and beat the life-expectations of doctors. He got value out of his short life, and his three siblings and wider family doted on him. He loved bright colours and jaunty music and was able to do a commando crawl.
The Kapiti connection
Elijah’s grand-parents Leslie and Bill Clague lived in Paraparaumu for a number of years and Los Angeles-born Leslie was probably the best District Library Manager the Kapiti Coast has ever had. Laura North occasionally ran with the Kapiti Joggers and Walkers when she visited the area.
In March of last year there was a fund-raising march for “Wonderboy” Elijah from Wellington to Auckland which raised over $50,000 for his specialist treatment in Australia. A number of us in the Joggers and Walkers joined on the trek through the Kapiti Coast.
Granddad Bill summed up Elijah’s achievements. He fought a long and hard battle with many ups and downs. His suffering is over and to some extent that is a relief for the family. The doctors had said doubtful that he would make it to four when he was born. The” little battler” made it to five just to prove them wrong. I thought you may enjoy this picture of him in happier times. I often look at it, being a yachtsman, and imagine him waiting for the breeze to fill in before he sails away.
A great send-off
The packed gymnasium had plenty of balloons around and during the service family sat around the open coffin at the front. His parents and two older siblings spoke movingly about the little guy, and the love of the wider family was very evident. In the audience there were probably about 60-70 officers and ranks from the army.
In lieu of flowers, people were asked to bring soft toys which will be distributed to needy children at Christmas.
It was a great send-off befitting a hero.