Charlie Petera (800740)
Te Whakakohatutanga (hapu). Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri (iwi).
3 December 1924 – 11 June 2016.
Charlie Petera grew up in Te Hapua. Aged 19 he embarked with the 11th Reinforcements joining the war effort during the Italian campaign in 1944. Charlie was signalman, responsible for maintaining communications within and beyond the Battalion. He also played a lot of piano.[i]
When Charlie returned from the war he took up carpentry at the Kaikohe Trade School. When he finished his apprenticeship he took on building and renovation projects in surrounding districts. He even tried his hand at oyster farming. He married Peeti Komene (Ngati Tautahi and Ngati Hine). Together they raised their family and worked their dairy farm at Ngataki – where Charlie spent most of his life. He worked hard to ensure the wellbeing of his family, for so many years he didn’t attend reunions because – “The cows didn’t allow time to attend them”. In later years the farm was leased out, but Charlie kept busy turning another piece of land into a native reserve and he even dabbled in free-range egg production. After Peeti passed he married Kataraina Te Ururoa-Baker (Ngati Porou and Ngati Maniapoto).[ii]
Like many other Battalion men Charlie contributed greatly to his Ngati Kuri people. He was a leader, an important repository of knowledge and a powerful orator.[iii] He was part of A Company’s legacy and appointed a patron of the Whanagarei charter school, Leadership Academy of A Company, in 2014. The school teaches young Maori pupils discipline and principals of the Battalion.
Charlie passed away on the 11th of June 2016, aged 90. He was the last of the Gum Diggers. His funeral was held at Waiora marae in Ngataki and he was laid to rest at Perepetua on June 14th. Charlie is survived by 7 children and many grandchildren.
Na reira e te Ika a Whiro, e te rangatira o Ngati Kuri - haere ki ou matua tipuna.
Haere, haere, oki oki ai.
[i] ‘Company A veteran – Charlie Petera’, Te Kaea, 24 April 2013. http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/latest-news/company-veteran-charlie-petera
[ii] ‘Charlie Petera’ from 30th National Reunion magazine, 28th (Maori) Battalion Association, 5-7 March 2010, p.52
[iii] Harry Burkhardt quoted in ‘Last ‘gum diggers’ Maori Battalion veteran dies’, Saturday 11 June 2016, Newshub. http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/last-gum-diggers-mori-battalion-veteran-dies-2016061119#axzz4Bhmst9Hd
30th National Reunion booklet, 28th (Maori) Battalion Association, 2010