Young musician keeps Anzac spirit alive


Nayland student Felix Cuff had a busy time during ANZAC Day weekend. Not only did he contribute to a nationwide performance of ‘Abide with Me’ as part of the the NZ Virtual Brass Band and Choir, he also got up at the crack of dawn to play the Last Post and the Reville solo as part of his neighborhood’s ANZAC Day remembrance.

For Year 12 student Felix, ANZAC day is a time to reflect on the past and be grateful for the sacrifices that others have made for us.

“It’s important for young people to get involved with ANZAC Day as it reminds us of some amazing people who did very honorable things, and that we shouldn’t take the way we live for granted!” he said. 

“The whole point is to remember them and of course that can’t happen in the future if today’s youth don’t feel impacted by it.”

The multi instrumentalist (he plays trumpet, piano, bass and sings) is also a member of the Nelson Cadets, where he holds the rank of LAC (Leading Air Cadet.) He has taken part in several ANZAC remembrance services over the past few years, but acknowledged that this year’s remembrance service was a bit different and that it was a challenge to go out by himself.

 “We (the cadet unit) usually do activities the day before, and arrive at the service venues together and it would all feel really professional.This year differed a lot as I felt a little out of place.”

Despite that, Felix jumped at the opportunity to make the morning special for his street when his dad suggested it.

“I was so excited when dad suggested the idea to me,” Felix said. “He was pointing out that many other people would be out there too, not expecting anything but silence. It would’ve been very emotional to some people to hear that in the distance, and that’s what made me want to do it!”

Something that made the morning even more special, was that Felix was joined by his grandfather, (himself a a former member of the Royal Air Force in the UK,) who watched and listened from England over WhatsApp. He even joined in with his grandson by reading The Ode between Felix’s bugle call and Felix’s playing of the Reveille.

Nayland students Felix Cuff and Natania Ngawhau were part of a Nationwide orchestra and choir that collaborated on a performance of Abide with Me. Felix is 6th from the left in the top row, and Natania is first on left on the bottom row. Malcolm Barr

Felix, along with fellow Nayland musician Natania Ngawhau, also performed alongside 132 New Zealanders of all ages and from all around the country, in an online performance of Abide with Me. His mum saw an advertisement looking for people to contribute and encouraged her son to get involved. 

“We were definitely not playing all at once,” Felix said. “That would be a tad disastrous! We each had to record ourselves playing over a click track, and send the video over to the person organizing it. He then somehow managed to put all the videos together.”

By Duncan McKinlay