Tweet Bird of Masterton got his name a long time ago. “When you are in the armed forces you always get a nickname. If you’re a Murphy you’re Spud, if your last name is Bird, you’re a Tweet.”
Giving service has been a theme for Tweet since 1966 when he joined the army as a caterer. During his 14 years in the army he completed a tour of Vietnam and served dinners to some pretty high profile people, including Sir Keith Holyock, the PM of the day.
Since moving to Masterton you will have seen him running his own fish and chip shop, to catering for big events like the Golden Shears, but his compassion and connection to the men and women who serve in war time is never far away.
“One day I dropped into the museum at Featherston to find pictures of the soldiers from the training camp there marching over the Rimutaka. What a feat it must have been,” Tweet says.
“They used to leave a 3am to be at the top of the hill by 7am where they were met by the women of the Patriatic Society boiling billies for tea. Then down the other side to Kaitoki for the night, and a further march onto Trentham and a train the next day. It was the last exercise these young men did before catching the boat from Wellington and heading off to a war they knew nothing about.
“104,000 men went to war in WW1, and over 30,000 of them trained at Featherston. That camp would have been bigger than Masterton is today.
Two years ago Tweet organised a reenactment of the Rimutaka hill march. 180 people took part and just like the men before them, the group set off at 3.00am to make the slow trip to the summit.
“When we got to the top the sun was just starting to lift and all you could see was the steam rising off the men,” Tweet says.
He is also the man behind the monument that sits proudly at the top of the hill to mark all the men who marched from Featherston to a war on the other side of the world.
We think Tweet’s project perfectly captures ‘One-of-a-Kindness’, and his support for us helps keep our service uniquely free for the people of Wairarapa and Greater Wellington.