Eruera Te Whiti o Rongomai Love

Eruera Te Whiti o Rongomai Rongomai
Also known as
Edward Te Whiti Rongomai, Tiwi, Tui
Date of death
Place of death
Western Desert

World War 2

Serial No
Lieutenant Colonel
Address on enlistment
Korokoro Rd., Petone, New Zealand
Next of kin
Mrs E.T.W. Love (wife), Korokoro Rd., Petone, New Zealand

Read a biography of Love, in English and te reo Māori, on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography = Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau website

This article appeared in the April 1990 NZ 28 Maori Battalion Golden Jubilee Reunion booklet.   

3rd C.O. - LOVE, Edward Te Whiti, MID

Born 18 May 1905, at Picton, was the first of six Maori to command the Battalion. Before becoming a founding officer he had had 15 years experience as a Territorial Officer and some of that time as a Company Commander.

"Tiwi" Love was the original O.C. Headquarters Company, he served in Greece and Crete and during one stage of the 1942 Libyan campaign, after Colonel Dittmer had been wounded, was acting C.O. during two notable actions.

All soldier's deaths are untimely, but Tiwi Love's passing was particularly so. The Battalion's first Maori Colonel had already made his mark as a forceful personality, charming, and yet tough, a leader of men eager to be led by one of their own. Any yet it was probably these same characteristics that led him to put himself in a position of what could be considered unnecessary danger. Before dark he and the Adjutant 'Ace' Wood drove up to the forward positions to see how things were. An air-burst got them both - the Colonel fatally. And the war went on.

Comments (3)

The following Tribute appeared on Page 6 of The Evening Post on 3 October 1942. LATE LIEUT-COL. LOVE MAORI PADRE'S TRIBUTE The high esteem in which the late Lieut-Colonel Love, commander of the Maori Battalion, was held by those under him, is shown in the following letter which has been received '. by Lieut.-Colonel Loves's parents from the Maori padre of the battalion:— Kia Hapi,— It is with a heavy heart that I now write to you of the death of your noble son and my esteemed friend, Lieut.- Colonel Love. It is the most tragic incident yet in the short and brilliant history of the 28th Maori Battalion. Every member of the battalion mourns the loss of such a great leader. His dynamic personality, his unflinching devotion to duty, his Maori instinct for fairness in war, were only some of the qualities which endeared him to the men under his command. During the first 'push' he was for a short while in command of the battalion after Colonel Dittmer was wounded at Monastir; he adopted Maori tactics and carried off an action which was afterwards called by another colonel as a classic. It was during this action that he sent out an order to his company commanders forbidding any man in the battalion to use explosive bullets against the enemy. His slogan was, hit hard, but clean. To us who are here, this is. not merely a battalion, or even a family loss. We have lost the first Maori promoted to the rank of Lieut.-Colonel. He had thrown wide open the gate for other Maori officers in the future. It is indeed a sad blow to us all. But our sorrow is mingled with pride, and our tears flow warmly down our cheeks; he fell as his great ancestors would have him fall. Another noble has been added to the golden roll of honour of the Great Tumatauenga (God of War). Our hearts are heavy, but we will fight on, departed leader and comrade, not to avenge your death (God forbid), but to win the cause for which you and your comrades shed your noble blood. Haere e Tama me to whanau. —Kahi T. Harawira.

The following article appeared in The Evening Post on Wednesday, 27 March 1940. HUTT VALLEY NEWS - FAREWELL TO MAORI OFFICER (From The Post's Representative.) A direct descendant of the Maori chieftains and warriors Te Puni and Wharepouri, who a century ago welcomed the first English settlers to the shores of Wellington, Captain E. T. W. Love, with several brother officers of the Maori Battalion, was guest of honour at a large gathering arranged by his friends in the Hutt Valley at the Maori meeting-house Tetau-o-tepo to bid farewell to him before his departure overseas. Captain Love was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Te Whiti Rio Love, Ariki (ruler) of the Cook Islands from which she has recently returned, and by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hapi Love. The other officer guests were his cousin Lieutenant George Love, Lieutenant Tiwa Bennett. son of Bishop Bennett, and Lieutenant McDonald, all of the Maori Battalion. Representatives of all three forces were present, including 'many Army friends' who had served with Captain Love in the Wellington Regiment before the outbreak of war. Other guests came from all parts of the district and from Wellington to say au revoir and a safe return. These included Mrs. Haremata and Mrs. Maumataka (great aunt and aunt of Captain Love), Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Bennett, Mr. and Mrs. Toomath, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Andrews, Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Wise (Eastbourne), and Mr. and Mrs. G. Craig, the Rev. H. S. I. Kenney, the Rev. K. Taepa, I Mrs. J. C. Burns, Mrs. N. Evans, and Mr. E. Riwaka. A number of farewell speeches were made, Mr J. W. Andrews speaking for the people of Lower Hutt, Mr. Hapi Love on behalf of the family, and Mr. H. D. Bennett for the Maori people. From those present and many more unable to attend a presentation of a wristlet watch was given to Captain Love who expressed his gratitude and that of his fellow guests for the delightful send-off party.  Maori action songs and poi dances interspersed the ballroom dancing which followed supper. Supper was served for the first time in the new buildings which have recently been added to the meeting-house. Solo items were also given by little Muru Riwaka (niece of Captain Love) who had obtained special leave from her country school to be present, and by his small brother, Ava Love, who gave a fine display of takara, the  Maori form of sword dancing. A special item, and one that was greatly appreciated by all present, was the singing of a number of songs of the Great War by Captain Love's sister, Mrs. H. Te Waari. 'Hutt Valley News - Farewell to Maori Officer'. The Evening Post,  27 March 1940.  URL:

The following letter was part of an article printed in the Waiapu Church Gazette, 1 June 1945: Spiritual Side of Maori Soldiers' Life Not Forgotten. (By the Bishop of Aotearoa) The first member of the Maori race to attain the honoured position of lieutenant-colonel was Tiwi Love, of the Te Atiawa tribe of Wellington and the West Coast. On his appointment he wrote the following beautiful letter to his mother. Here it is: Mother,— God give me strength to carry on, wisdom to make good judgments, courage to have my own convictions, justice in all my undertakings. I thank God that He has brought me to this great day for our Maori people, a great day for your son, who is so very proud of a most wonderful mother. In one of those mysterious movements of Providence the brave and heroic writer of the above letter did not live for many months before he made the supreme sacrifice for God, for his king, and for his country. But it is true of him as of so many others: He being dead yet speaketh. And as we think of the new -age, and the new generation coming on, may I suggest how valuable such a message would be to our children, pakeha and Maori alike,  if it could be attractively printed in good-sized type and presented to every school throughout the country. 'Spiritual Side of Maori Soldiers' Life Not Forgotten'. Waiapu Church Gazette, , Volume 36, Issue 3, 1 June 1945, p15 URL: