Battalion's four rifle companies were organised along tribal lines, partly
following the boundaries of the four Māori parliamentary electorates. Each
company had its own nickname, reflecting the history and character of its main
- A Company, drawn from Ngāpuhi, Ngāti
Whātua and other northern iwi, was known
as the Gum Diggers (Ngā Kiri Kapia) due to the long history of kauri gum
digging in the north.
- B Company, centred on Te Arawa and
the Mataatua tribes, was the Penny Divers (Ngā Ruku Kapa) - a reference to
the practice of diving for coins to entertain tourists in the Rotorua
- C Company, drawn from the Tairāwhiti/East
Coast region, was the Cowboys (Ngā Kaupoi), because of the common use of
horses for transport in that area.
- D Company, which covered the whole of
the South Island and the remainder of the North Island, including Waikato,
Taranaki, Manawatū and Wairarapa, was known as the Foreign Legion or Ngāti
- Headquarters (HQ) Company drew its personnel from all over Māoridom. Its diverse origins and roles
earned it the name Odds and Sods.
Monty Soutar, Nga Tama Toa - The Price of Citizenship: C Company 28 (Maori) Battalion 1939-1945, David Bateman, Auckland, 2008 p.44 - based on an original map from J.F. Cody, 28 (Maori) Battalion, War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1956, p.6