Ngarimu VC investiture, part 17 - Te Hokowhitu Toa

Tuini-ngoi A004891.jpg

The Ngarimu Victoria Cross Investiture Meeting and Reception to His Excellency the Governor General, 6 October 1943

On 4 June 1943 news was broadcast world-wide that 2/Lt Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu had been awarded the Victoria Cross for his role in the attack on Point 209 at Tebaga Gap, Tunisia. It was the sixth VC to be awarded to a New Zealander in the war, and the first to a Maori soldier.

The public investiture ceremony where the Governor-General presented the award to Mr & Mrs Hamuera Ngarimu was held at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria, Ngarimu’s home town. At the time it was one of the largest and most fully documented Māori gatherings ever held.[1]  Despite the rain and mud, 7000 people attended the event, including the Prime Minister and other parliamentarians, Battalion members on furlough, Home Guardsmen and 1300 schoolchildren, who came from all parts of the country. Three hundred performers had been brought together from the Gisborne district alone. Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Ngāti Porou, led by Sir Apirana Ngata hosted the event that featured five hours of entertainment.  Members of the National Film Unit, the official Government photographer - John Pascoe, and the press documented the event. Cameramen from the US Marine Corps also headed to Ruatoria to record the event.  Read more about the event here.

There were two booklets printed for the occassion:
1) Souvenir of the Ngarimu Victoria Cross Investiture Meeting (NSP)
2) Supplement to the Souvenir Programme (SSP)

This recording of the haka was made on the morning of the investiture at Whakarua Park.


Sir AT Ngata: We have first an item composed by Tuini Ngawai of Tokomaru Bay during the recent war called Te Hokowhitu Toa. In English “The Brave Band of Tu.” Perhaps it will be interesting to listeners to know the English version of this:

Ye Warriors of Tu! Take with you

The mantle of your ancestors,

The power and the majesty also,

The power and the majesty also,

To be with you at great Tawhiti,

Even unto remote Tawhiti.

Alas, alas! The longing,

That gnaws at my heart.

For this present, farewell!

May the King of Kings

Have you in His keeping,

That is the cry of this my heart. 


This was a favourite item with the members of the C Company of the Maori Battalion and performed with great gusto at Palmerston on the eve of the departure of the Battalion in 1940.

The item that follows it is one that has a very large, extensive, vogue now in the native schools and Maori clubs throughout the dominion. It was also composed by Tuini Ngawai. Arohaina mai, e te Kingi nui. The air is a familiar one When Love Walked In.’ This item was composed by Tuini at a time when there was a good deal of anxiety about the men going overseas and asks that the great King, God, should bestow his love and protection upon them and ensure them a safe return.

Recording starts at third line and full song is repeated

Te Hokowhitu toa! Mauria atu ra,          

Te pueru o koutou tipuna, e!                  

Te mana me te wehi e!                         

Te mana me te wehi e!                         

Hei hoa ki te tawhiti nui,            

Ki tawhiti pamamao.                             

Aue, aue! Te aroha,                              

E ngau kino nei;                        

Otira i tenei wa, haere ra!                     

Ma te Kingi o nga Kingi!                       

Koutou e manaaki e!                            

Ko te tangi tenei a te ngakau e!


Site editors notes:

  • There is intermittent static throughout the audio

Sound file from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Image reference

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Title: Ngarimu investiture hui, Ruatoria
Reference: A.004891
Date: 06.10.43
Ngoi Pewhairangi and Tuini Ngawai performing on stage at hui.

Further information and copies of this image may be obtained from Te Papa through its Collections Online website.  Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any reuse of this image

Submitted by mbadmin on Mon, 22/04/2013 - 16:37

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