Charles Bennett, Commanding Officer of the 28th Māori Battalion describes the traits of Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu VC. As a member of his intelligence section Bennett explains that Ngārimu's particular qualities were such that he would defend his men, even at the cost of his own life.
I knew Ngārimu well. I think I've already related that he was one of my intelligence section in Greece and in Crete. Ngārimu was, how shall I put it, an introvert; a very quiet kind of bloke; had very little to say, but very meticulous in his behaviour, in his appearance, always appeared well dressed, very careful about his appearance. Had little to say, well disciplined and a chap who was the kind of bloke that you can give an order to perform a certain job and you can take it for granted that that job will be done and done well.
So, I think briefly if you add all these qualities up I think you can see the qualities of a good soldier you know. Disciplined, obedient, fearless, no questions asked and doing everything to the best of his ability and I think it was not surprising that kind of... I have the highest regard for Ngārimu as I did for a number of others in my intelligence section, but it was not surprising that a man like Ngārimu should've been capable of winning a Victoria Cross in the end, because I should imagine when he was given this particular job to do by his Company Commander he did it even at the cost of his life.
I could see him standing up now, because his job was to defend the particular patch that he had and to defend his men and he did that willingly... quite prepared to die. Because he had been wounded, as the history shows, he had been wounded previously and I had tried to get him out to bring him out, but he said no, he didn't want to go, he wanted to be with his men, and he stayed with his men until he died, that's the kind of man he was...
Sound file - Extracts from Interview with Sir Charles Bennett, interviewer Jim Sullivan, recorded 31 March and 1 April 1993, commissioned by the Ministry of External Relations.
From the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library Oral History Centre,OHColl-0217-1. All rights reserved. Permission of the Library and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade must be obtained before any re-use of this sound file.
Detail of Officers at Katerini
Alexander Turnbull Library
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.