This article appeared in the April 1976 NZ 28 Maori Battalion Tenth Reunion booklet.
COLONEL ARAPETA MURUKIKITIPUA PITAPITA NUIAARANGI AWATERE, D.S.O., M.C.
Born at Waitotoki, Tuparoa, 25th April 1910, a member of a famous fighting clan namely "Umuariki" of Ruatoria and also of the famous ancestor "Tuwhakairiora" of Ngatiporou, Te Tairawhiti.
He studied at Te Aute College in 1925-1927. A Civil Servant after leaving college and served in the Maori Affairs Department until the declaration of war by Germany in 1939.
After the formation of the Maori Battalion at Palmerston North was mooted by the elders of the tribes and spearheaded by Sir A. T. Ngata solely on a voluntary basis, Peta like many of the young stalwarts from the Maraes and homes, joined the band at the call to arms of these youths who were later to become famous under the leadership of Awatere himself.
Awatere joined the reforming of the Battalion after the evacuation of the N.Z. Division from Greece and Crete.
He became the I.O. under Lt. Colonel G. Dittmer, M.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., M.I.D., on 11th November 1941, the beginning of the Desert Campaign. Here he won his M.C., for outstanding leadership and distinguished service.
The next regrouping of the N.Z. Division after the Desert Campaign was at Maadi, Cairo.
After the mauling of the Allied Forces, with heavy losses from the might of the German Forces under Field Marshal Rommel, though we were successful with our ranks depleted so much so it took two months to prepare for the next phases of war.
Italy was the next theatre of war. Awatere took over command of the 28th Maori Battalion at "Camerino" from Colonel Young.
The N.Z. Division regrouped at Forli and Colonel Awatere was to spearhead the Division on the attack of "Faenza" on 10th December 1944. Faenza was finally captured and with heavy losses. From this action Colonel Awatere won the D.S.O. for gallant and distinguished service in the field.
Tii - Hee! Mauriora Tii - Hee! Mauriora
Hoki wairua mai e te matua,
Ki runga-i-o marae maha e tiraha atu nei,
Ki o iwi ati ra ki ngatiporou katoa,
Kei te whunga, kei te tangi te motu katoa,
Kua riro nei ite ringa kaha ote mate
No reira haere, haere atu ra.
Haere-e hoki i runga i o waka tapu.
I a Nukutere I a Horouta I a Takitimu, hei
I a koe kia whiti atu ai koe ite rerenga
Ki Paerau, Ki te hui huinga o te Kahurangi
Te uri o nga Kuri-paka-a-uetuhiao-haere;
Te maunga-aringa a o matua o te Hokowhitia-
Mauria atu te aroha ki o tamariki e takoto
mai ra i nga parae o Tu.
Haere ra e te, Tihi-o-Hikurangi.
(Aue! Taukuri E.)
By Te Rau Whiro Tibble