Captain Henare Ngata responds to the toast given by Major McCreadie at the reunion for ex-service people held at Uepohatu Marae in 1947. See the programme here.
The marae hosted events held on the 12th and 13th of September that included cultural competitions with local school children and the opening of the Uepohatu War Memorial Hall. The hall was built to commemorate East Coast soldiers who died during the two World Wars.
A reunion of ex-service people (including members of the Maori Battalion) was also held.
At the investiture held on the second day, seventeen decorations were presented to servicemen and women who had served abroad and on the home front.
The gathering was an important one, attended by thousands including the Prime Minister Peter Fraser, the Leader of the Opposition Sidney Holland and other members of Parliament. Sir Bernard Freyberg, the Governor General opened the hall and unveiled two memorial tablets inside.
Captain Henare Ngata embarked with the Main Body. He spent four harrowing years as a Prisoner of War after being captured at Kalamata in southern Greece on April 29th, 1941. On his return from the war he completed his BA and Bachelor of Commerce at university. Henare went on to do many amazing things, including being the first Maori accountant. He was knighted in 1982 for 30 years of service to Maori. After retirement he continued working on matters Maori including the C Company Trust.
Mr Chairman, Your Excellency, the Prime Minister and Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of the Servicemen of this war I would like to thank Major McCreadie for the very kind remarks that he has made about it. Time is short, time’s getting on, I shall limit myself to a very few remarks. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the hope that the cooperation and friendship between Maori and Pakeha, formed while we were pursuing the objectives of war will be the basis of that peacetime cooperation between the two races which is so necessary to our harmony. And, let me add that in the hall which will be unveiled tomorrow we have an example of the cooperation which exists in this distrct between Maori and Pakeha. And I think in that respect we are examples to the rest of the country.
In conclusion Mr Chairman, I should like to say on behalf of the members of the Second NZ here how very proud we were to have as our commander Tiny Freyberg. And on behalf of Sailors, Airmen and especially Kiwis I should like to pay a tribute to that very gallant group of people who did so much for us while we were overseas. I refer to Lady Freyberg and her gracious band of Tui.
Now once again, ladies and gentlemen I wish to thank Major McCreadie for his very kind remarks.
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Image: Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust