Māori Battalion returns part 1

This National Film Unit Weekly Review film shows the extensive preparations made to welcome home the 28th Māori Battalion on their return to Wellington in January 1946. Porirua Māori are seen preparing shellfish and other food and cooking a huge hangi to cater for a hākari (feast) in the wharf sheds at Aotea Quay the next day. After the Dominion Monarch pulls alongisde Pipitea Wharf on the 23rd, the 780 men of the Battalion file down the gangway to prepare for the welcome ceremonies (clip 1 of 3).


WEEKLY REVIEW No. 232, Archives New Zealand YouTube

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At length 2:07/3:02 of this film reel is my kui Hopaea (Sophie) Te Hana (nee Tahiwi) on the right hand side wearing a headscarf and glasses. She was one of the kaikaranga welcoming the 28th Maori Battalion home to Wellington from WWII. Her two brothers Henare Tahiwi and Pirimi Tahiwi were members of the Pioneer Maori Battalion in WWI. Her own son Cpl Remana Kiriwai Te Hana 802232, was a member of the Maori Battalion 2NZEF. He died in April 1945 and is buried in Forli, Italy.

MEMORIES FROM FLT LT ERIC BATES RAF, RAAF: "I am a 90 years old ex pilot now living in Aus but as a 15 year old I joined the merchant navy. I was a cabin boy on the Dominion Monarch when she was a troopship in 45/46 and sailed from the UK to go through the Med to pick up the NZ Maori battalion from Naples. I remember the troops coming ashore and how excited they were and the sunken ship in the bay. The boys settled in and were so happy to be going back home.
I have endearing memories of them being so full of life and always laughing singing and dancing an involved in boxing matches. There seemed to have a bit of grog too which is more than we sailors had. On arrival in Wellington I was treated to the most amazing show of love and passion which is the most enduring memory of my whole life. Lo! I went on line and found your webpage and have spent the most amazing and emotional time ever. The memories cam tumbling back and brought tears to my eyes. The scenes on the wharf are so amazing and enduring bringing it all back so vividly to me. I doubt there will be anyone else left who was directly involve with the Battalion and their homecoming and I feel rather proud to, in my small way, have been involved in bringing the boys HOME.