Captain Matarehua Wikiriwhi (DSO, MC, MID), 39282

Captain Matarehua WIKIRIWHI D.S.O., M.C., M.I.D. 39282

Photographed 26 January 2013, Rotorua Cemetery, Sala Street, Rotorua

Captain Matarehua WIKIRIWHI DSO, MC, MID


2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Forces

28 Maori Battalion

Died 29 October 1988

Aged 70 years 

His service record on the Cenotaph Database

NZG 21 Sep 1944


“In the attack on Takrouna village on the night 19/20 April 1943 Lieutenant Wikiriwhi, Intelligence Office of his unit was personally responsible for the recorganisation of his Battalion during an extremely difficult period of the attack.  In the course of the attack his unit suffered heavy casualties including his Commanding Officer, adjutant and the whole of the officers of the two forward Companys.  Undaunted however, Lieutenant Wikiriwhi with a quick grasp of the situation pushed on with the attack and with cool deliberation, courage, determination and with complete disregard for his own personal safety and despite fierce enemy shell, mortar and machinegun fire he set about the further task of reorganising the Companys, establishing and consolidating them in fixed positions and establishing Battalion Headquarters.

First light on 20 April 1943 found the Battalion in a difficult situation.  There was no communication with Brigade Headquarters, all Company Commanders had been wounded and evacuated and the hard fighting during the night had caused considerable disorganisation.  The area had been subjected to heavy mortar and artillery fire.  Lieutenant Wikiriwhi assumed command of the Battalion, completed the reorganisation of the Companys, and consolidated the ground won.  Until relieved at 1400 hours he carried out the triple role of Commanding Officer, Adjutant and Intelligence Officer.

Throughout the entire action Lieutenant Wikiriwhi displayed coolness under fire, and the firmness, initiative and judgement of an experience soldier.  His continual cheerfulness, calm and complete disregard of enemy fire inspired his unit during a very difficult and dangerous period.  Only when satisfied that the situation was stabilized and a senior officer available to take over from him did he relax his efforts.  He then reported personally to Brigade Headquarters.”


39282 Capt M. Wikiriwhi, DSO, MC. Born Rotorua, NZ 4 Apr 1918. Shepherd. Enlisted 2 NZEF 1939 as Pte; Commissioned & 2 Lt at Alamein; IO at Takrouna; wounded at Cassino; discharged 1945. (Wounded 4 times)


Distinguished Service Order

Military Cross

1939-45 Star

Africa Star 8th Army

Italy Star

Defence Medal

War Medal 1939-45 Mentioned in Despatches

NZ War Service Medal

[Reproduced with permission from A.J. Polaschek.  Excerpt from New Zealand and the Distinguished Service Order by J.Bryant Haigh and A.J. Polaschek.]

His military records are available but with restrictions from Archives New Zealand.

Alexander Turnbull Library hold letters from Matarehua to his family from 1940-45 and whakapapa lists.


©Sarndra Lees 2013

Submitted by Sarndra on Sun, 03/02/2013 - 18:54

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