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Lt Colonel Roderick Mackenzie

  • July 5th, 2011

An honourable soldier  was interred two weeks ago on a  freezing grey day among the other old  soldiers in Ashburton Cemetery. He wanted to lie there with the New Zealand servicemen and women of the country he adopted on his retirement from commanding 23 SAS of the British Army.


He was my father-in-law. I respected him hugely, and I am grateful to Mike Crean of the Press for the obituary linked above. . 


He was 88. His was what a Korean friend described as a "happy funeral" because we could celebrate a life lived to the full. It ended with two unexpected days in hospital, before the undignified decline that modern medicine reserves for too many.  


I can no longer make the claim that Cathy may be tired of hearing, that if we split up I get to keep the in-laws.  I first met Roddie a few years after his arrival in New Zealand (when Cathy took me and 3 friends home from skiing at Mt Hutt to stay at their farm house) . I had lank hair down to my chest and as a typical anti-Vietnam war student protester I thought I knew an awful lot about the difference between reality and political rhetoric.


Astonishingly in retrospect he did not just ignore me. An after dinner discussion ended in the early hours of the morning only when my mother-in-law-to-be Mary ordered him to bed. He was not overbearing. He made few assertions. Essentially he just pursued me with question after  supplementary question until I could no longer avoid concluding that I really did not know very much about the world and the rights and wrongs of its players.


He felt it his family duty to maintain the highest standards, including of courage. But he had so much fun in the war, and in the army afterwards, that  I think courage and animal spirits must be closely related for fortunate men of that age.  My father, who was also courageous,  confided apologetically when Cathy and I accompanied him to a Monte Cassino commemoration in 1994, that the war years had been the best of his life.


 Roddie's father too was awarded the MC, for bravery in the first World War. Our children have honourable traditions to  uphold.


  • Don McKenzie
  • July 7th, 2011
  • 1:21 pm

Stephen, you were indeed blessed to have a father in law  of such competence and integrity.

  • K Clancy
  • July 8th, 2011
  • 2:27 pm

They were the greatest generation.
Thank you. 

  • Aaron Dixon
  • July 14th, 2011
  • 10:08 pm

Nice tribute- thanks for sharing.

  • peterquixote
  • July 16th, 2011
  • 2:44 am

as usual you always write well Stephen, 

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