Tangihanga – Major M.M. Brown, RNZMP



Monique

…usually, one might use a title like this to remember a member of the old and bold who has passed on…Major Monique Brown of Waiouru died suddenly in Wellington on 14 February…although quite definitely bold she equally definitely wasn’t that old, certainly nowhere close to be the topic of an obituary.

Monique and her whanau were welcomed onto the Army Marae on their arrival from Wellington yesterday afternoon and a church service will be held at the marae this evening at 7pm. She will be buried with full military honours commencing with a service at the National Army Marae- Rongomaraeroa o Nga hau e Wha Marae- Waiouru on Friday  at 1100. The service will be followed by a burial at the Waiouru Cemetery. Dress for military personnel attending the tangi is Dress 1A, HMR. Light refreshments will be available at the WO & SNCOs’ Mess at the completion of the formalities.

Wow…Monique…gone just like that…Monique was a Kiwi who’d joined the Aussie Army (OK, no one’s perfect!!) and went to the Australian Defence Force Academy at Duntroon, graduating near the top of her class. I first met her int eh mid-90s just after she’d seen the light, come home and joined our own Army. At the time I was a fresh-as lieutenant and Monique was the ‘go-to’ captain in Army Headquarters. The whole time I knew her she was always bubbly and happy but damn professional as well – I suspect, although I never had occasion to find out personally, that ‘bubbly and happy’ could chnage very quickly if she felt that an individual was unreceptive to the ‘carrot’ approach…

One of the good things about a small army is that it’s easy to keep in touch with people and so Monique and I would bump into each other from time to time over the years. In 2007, she was posted up to Waiouru, ostensibly to work for me but I prefer to think if it as ‘with’ rather than ‘for’ – I was a newly minted major and she had some years seniority over me but never once saw fit to mention this but she managed to keep me on the straight and narrow and a jetted back and forth between my domestic responsibilities and those arising from CWID that year.  Around this time, Monique wrote a book for children, a family story about what her granddad did in the war – she was always concerned that the boys would know their heritage – and I’m very glad now that I took the opportunity to get a copy then: it’s on a shlef in our library waiting for a time when the twins are a little older. I was quite sad when she moved out to occupy the new simulation centre that she had built in Waiouru: very flash with two indoor twelve lane weapon ranges and 24 station simulation facility…A year later, she got the posting that was nearest and dearest to her heart and that was the defacto ‘Mayor of Waiouru’, responsible for support services for the camp. Monique was all about support…supporting her family, her friends, her work colleagues and all those in her little dependency in the Central Plateau…

At the end of last year, Monique had been posted back to line logistic unit and would have been just getting her feet under that desk…I remember seeing a mention on Facebook that she was moving south late last year and said to her that we’d have to ‘do lunch or coffee or something’ since we were both back in the Manawatu…too slow and now Monique’s made one last trip back home to Waiouru…

OK…LISTEN UP,  FRIENDS…NO ONE ELSE IS TO DIE THIS YEAR – THAT”S AN ORDER!!!!!

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16 thoughts on “Tangihanga – Major M.M. Brown, RNZMP

  1. Monique (née leef) was my dear cousin. Her mother Phoebe and my mother Jacqueline were sisters. My father bill was in new Zealand army. We moved to Australia in 1977. Not long after that aunty Phoebe passed away .uncle syd, Buffy and Darren moved to glen iris in Melbourne. Monique came to Adelaide for a while and we got very close.we rode motorbikes together and just mucked around. As we were same age.
    She then joined army and moved to puckapunyal in Victoria. We got together as often as possible.she then moved back to n.z we kept in touch for awhile but sadly we lost touch. I was devastated to hear of her passing. My love to all her family .she is reunited with her mum.I will always remember her and miss her, Greg keraney

  2. It is with real sadness that I hear of the passing of Monique. When I first met Monique I was the Sergeant Major of the Military Police Platoon at Puckapunyal in outback Victoria. I was informed that Monique would be posted in and that she a ‘feisty’ one. In January 1991 Monique was posted in and we sat down and had a very long chat about where the Platoon was at. I explained how hard we had worked the previous year to completely turn around a bad reputation. What struck me immediately about her was her determination to achieve what ever she set her mind to or whatever someone told her not to do. We had a fantastic year together as a group and in my 32 year history in the Army this short period was one of the highlights of my career.
    At the time Monique had troubles maintaining a fitness regime so I ran with her every day and set goals for her to achieve and even though we were not a combat unit I maintained a Combat Unit fitness level. We conducted a Combat Fitness Assessment (15 km Forced March) which she not only achieved but led the group in. I have never met a more focussed individual when she set her mind to something.
    In saying that she was a woman with great compassion. She was faced with some significant leadership issues within the Platoon that year and although I was supposed to be the experienced one, her guidance to those soldiers involved taught me several very valuable lessons. Lessons that helped serve me in my soldiering years to come. A very intellectual woman who always held a great conversation, that sometimes would degenerate into a debate but always ended with that broad trademark Maori smile.
    I know we both had an influence on each others Military Careers and its sad that she returned to NZ not long after that year and I heard nothing from her. Then again the Military can do that to you.
    As I sat here and I first read her obituary I can only smile and say to myself, ‘I knew she would, because she was one of the good ones’.
    My wishes go out to all her loved ones. If ever you needed inspiration that you should get off your butt and achieve something in life then Monique was it. Take courage from the fact that she was constantly challenging herself and challenging those around her.
    A very sad day.

    • That sounds like Monique to a ‘T’…she was always very good at not just setting the bar high but making sure she could achieve it as well…and as for getting her own way…the curent base commander in Waiouru. Paul Van Den Broek said at her funeral that she was very people-orientated and compassionate. “And very tenacious!” he added wryly. “Her infectious enthusiasm often swayed an argument in her favour. When I did say no, she accepted that as merely a brief interlude before I said yes.”

  3. Army major collapses and dies at rehearsal
    By Anna Leask 5:30 AM Friday Feb 18, 2011
    An army major who collapsed and died during a rehearsal for an official ceremony at Trentham will be buried today with full military honours.
    Monique-Maria Brown, 47, collapsed at the military camp on Monday during a practice run of a welcoming ceremony for the new Chief of Army, Major General Timothy Keating.
    Army medics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Major Brown, a former military police officer.
    The cause of death has not been established. Her family believe she may have had a heart attack, but an autopsy was unable to determine why she died.
    Her husband, Errol, who is also in the army, and sons Harrison, 17, and Levi, 13, were too distraught to speak about her death.
    Family spokesman David Chambers said Major Brown was an “absolutely awesome” person.
    “You couldn’t ask for a more lovely lady,” he said. “Her mana was just amazing.”
    Mr Chambers said the coroner had ordered samples to be taken to find out how Major Brown died.
    “She just collapsed. It was pretty sudden.”
    Major Brown was born and raised in Waiouru but was living in Linton, where she was serving in the 2nd Logistics Battalion.
    She had been in the army for almost 17 years and was passionate about youth projects such as a centre for teenagers at Waiouru.
    She told Army News in 2008 that the centre made a “huge positive impact and difference to not only the kids, but to the whole Waiouru community”.
    “Before, teens spent their weekend nights at home with one or two mates during the winter or out roaming the streets in the summer. Now they have a place to hang out and catch up with their mates. It’s a really positive, high-energy environment and the kids thrive in it.”
    Mr Chambers said: “Monique had a lot of time for the young ones and it was a two-way thing.
    “Everyone knew Monique and that was evident when we arrived back in Waiouru with her body. The crowd that assembled at the marae was absolutely fantastic.”
    Army spokesman Major Aaron Couchman said Major Brown was the holder of an Armed Forces Award for long service and good conduct.
    She was also involved in setting up a weapons training facility at the Waiouru Military Camp.
    She was the project manager for a simulator that allowed soldiers to train in a computer-generated landscape, using weapons that fire compressed air. The aim was to give recruits experience before they ventured on to a real rifle range
    Major Brown’s funeral will be held today at the National Army Marae at Waiouru. The funeral will include a gun carriage and firing party and General Keating is expected to attend.

  4. The Last Salute
    By John Archer and Glenn Watson | 19th February 2011
    A Waiouru army major who collapsed and died during an official ceremony rehearsal at Trentham was buried yesterday with full military honours.
    Monique-Maria Brown, 47, collapsed at the military camp on Monday during a practice run of a welcoming ceremony for the new Chief of Army, Major General Timothy Keating.
    Army medics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Major Brown, a former military police officer.
    The cause of death has not been established. Her family believe she may have had a heart attack but an autopsy was unable to determine why she died.
    She leaves behind her husband Errol, who is also in the army, and sons Harrison, 17, and Levi, 13.
    Family spokesman David Chambers said Major Brown was an “absolutely awesome” person.
    “You couldn’t ask for a more lovely lady,” he said. “Her mana was just amazing.”
    Major Brown was a self-professed army brat and tomboy, born and raised in Waiouru in the 1960s. After attending Turakina Maori Girls’ College, she asked her father if she could follow his footsteps into the Army Transport Corps.
    When he told her “it is no place for young ladies” she went and joined the Australian Defence Force, and was one of the first women to be accepted into Duntroon Military College.
    In her holidays, she covered long distances on her Harley Davidson and worked as a jillaroo, mustering cattle in the Outback.
    Later she was the first woman in the ADF to study at Westpoint Military Academy in the US, and on her return she was the first woman in the ADF to serve in a combat unit.
    She transferred to the NZ Army in 1994 and joined the Military Police. As its second in command, she challenged the status quo and gained respect with her professionalism. She had already gained awards in martial arts and military studies, and added a degree in criminology from Victoria University to her achievements.
    On weekends, she and Errol did gigs with their rock band Leather and Lace.
    In 1998 she was paralysed by a brain aneurism but, with tremendous tenacity and faith in God, she fully recovered. She kept her recovery in mind with frog ornaments in her office – frog an acronym for Fully Rely On God. She had been in the army for almost 17 years and was passionate about youth projects, such as a centre for teenagers at Waiouru.
    She was fully involved at Waiouru, on both school boards the marae committee, and in the kapa haka group.
    She told Army News in 2008 that the centre made a “huge positive impact and difference to, not only the kids, but to the whole Waiouru community”.
    “Before, teens spent their weekend nights at home with one or two mates during the winter or out roaming the streets in the summer. Now they have a place to hang out and catch up with their mates. It’s a really positive, high-energy environment and the kids thrive in it.”
    Centre co-ordinator Dawn Allsop told the Chronicle yesterday the Major was a fantastic woman. “The kids really looked up to and admired her.
    “She did a lot of fundraising for the centre. It is open on Friday and Saturday nights and the kids, mostly teenagers, come along for karaoke nights, movie nights and so forth,” Ms Allsop said.
    Army spokesman Major Aaron Couchman said Major Brown was the holder of an Armed Forces Award for long service and good conduct.
    She was involved in setting up a weapons training facility at the Waiouru Military Camp.
    She was also the project manager for a simulator that allowed soldiers to train in a computer-generated landscape, using weapons that fire compressed air.
    The aim was to give recruits experience before they ventured on to a real rifle range.
    Two months ago, Major Brown and her family moved to Linton, where she was serving in the 2nd Logistics Battalion.
    Yesterday’s funeral was attended by several hundred mourners, including the newly appointed Chief of Army, Maj Gen Tim Keating, and included several haka and a firing party.

  5. RIP Monique ‘Mad Dog’ McQuade … as I knew her in 1990 in Puckpapunyal Victoria. Great woman and platoon commander. Sensible with authority and always looking out for her personnel. Proud of her culture and her people. Too big for the Army headset but a great representative of the service. All my thoughts to her family and her community.

    Monique is fondly remembered

  6. MIDNITE LACE … they even called us ‘the other Army Band’

    I met Monique & Errol at one of their gigs many years ago, when Midnite Lace was starting to get local exposure. They were actually playing at the Upper Hutt RSA Club that night and after the band had finished, myself and a few regulars sat around a table with a guitar and sang up a storm. The members of Midnite Lace joined us and I could see Monique watching me play the guitar. As always it was closing time and we needed to leave. It was Monique who approached me and asked if I would be interested in jamming with the band at the next practice. I think Monique was keen to find another female to join the band and as I wasn’t too shabby on the guitar she extended the invite.

    To cut a long story short I joined Midnite Lace a short time after that night and as a band we enjoyed 5 awesome years together sharing a music with both military and civilian alike. I missed Monique immensely when she first took ill and as a band we knew that it just wasn’t the same without her in the front row. The millennium gig at the Levin RSL was the hardest to get through as I had to perform many of the songs that were Monique’s, it was also hard for as a band (who had a pretty good rep by now) it was to be our last as a unit.

    RIP my friend for I know you will be singing with the angels and like many others I too will cherish the times we spent together. To Errol, Harrison and Levi you are in my thoughts and my heart always.

    Denise (Dee) Nielsen

    • I watched many of those gigs as a young lad (Dee is my Mum) and always loved hearing Monique sing. She always enjoyed her time on the stage with the band and really stood out as a performer and a person.

      The world has lost one of it’s most talented and brightest. Thoughts and prayers with Errol and whanau.

      Matt

  7. Well Monique, the Chequers Ave girl, what does one say. I have just found out about your passing through this post. You came into our family as a good friend during our teens then you went out and made a life for yourself. Last I heard from you, 9 years ago, we had a good catch up via email. We talked about how we shared many fun times, outings and created many headaches for your dad. When we were younger, you talked about your mum often, how you missed her so much. You are now at peace with your mum and the whole world is proud of your achievements my friend. God Bless…Adams whanau, Ngaruawahia.

  8. Ekira Monique,moe mai e te whaea e hine i to moenga roa i raro na maunga o Ohakune ara a Ruapehu,Ngauruahoe me Tongariro.
    Ka hoki atu nga mahara ki nga wa o mua i te wa e noho ana koe i Puckapunyal,ko koe hoki te Rangatira o na pirihimana ana he hoa koe kia Rose raua ko John Martin me Garry raua ko tana hoa wahine e mahi ana i te Kura Waka ireira.
    Ana ko Nui Moore i tutakihia ia koe i Kunnunarra..aroha mai te whanau…

  9. Its taken me a few minutes to get over from being stunned by the news of my mate dying. How do you begin to describe a person who put so much into life, so one who I believe would have (if it wasn’t for her sickness) been the first one star female officer in the army. She had brains, looks, personality and a voice that would rival many of our beautiful manu back in NZ. When I left the army in 2001 both her and Errol were still in. She, 2IC Mp platoon and Errol was with training. The boys, Harrison and Levi were just that, boys, now they are little men. Harrison,17, Levi, 13. WOW. What I really enjoyed were the pizza nights and also the facials she used to give me (never thought I would), but I did. Meeting here father Syd and the crazy way he used to drive his Cherokee, baffles me to this day. My partner and I now live and work at the Cultural Centre, Uluru in Australia which is owned and operated by the local Anangu. All these emotions are starting to well up, sadness, happiness still stunned. Happiness because she left this world doing what she loved best. Working with people. (and also being the boss) Errol, Harrison and Levi my heart goes out to you. I will see you before than.

    Rudy

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