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Veteran Ralph Tako, whose first language is Maori, recalls the break-out at Minqar Qaim and reminsces about comrades on a C Company veterans’ pilgrimage to Italy in 1999. There were over 150 participants in the group, including 18 veterans, travelling on three buses. Ralph is talking to Monty Soutar. His first language is Maori.

Transcript

Ralph Tako: ...well like ah... too many battles you can’t say which.

Monty Soutar: Oh ae, ae

Ralph Tako: Only the breakthrough, I remember the breakthrough

Monty Soutar: Minqar Quaim?

Ralph Tako: Well, it was C Company that broke the line. Yeah. And we lost one of the officers [referring to Capt. Jim Tuhiwai]. Tutu Wirepa was our officer but before that battle goes, we never carried a spade, or pick or anything, a gas mask … the line has to be broken [referring to the breakout at Minqar Qaim] but the sappers had to get [i.e. lay] the mine first and then we always attack about one o’clock.

Monty Soutar: In the morning?

Ralph Tako: Yeah, always the morning. *And all the, see we were [on] the move then see … they showed us [when] we broke the line Pakeha comes to be stretcher bearers. Maoris would prepared [i.e. ordered] again to join. Aww, you gotta go on the book, well if a man had the timings well you can tell the places he’s been eh [meaning it would help him if he had the offical history of the Maori Battalion to refer to so as to remind himself of the dates and order of battles].

Some Maoris can compose songs, just like that song “Dusty wheels across the desert”. That fulla that composed the song is cousin to Tutu Wirepa … he was a Henderson

Monty Soutar: Henderson? From Te Araroa?

Ralph Tako: Yeah.

Monty Soutar: You know which one?

Ralph Tako: Rangi

Monty Soutar: Oh he got killed eh?

Ralph Tako: He got killed [at Point 209 in Tunisia], well composing, because you just don’t know where you’re going next time. How can you, because once the brigade is put in the line they got to go forward or go backwards. And that's the 6th Brigade, but always the 5th Brigade, because the best fighters were the 23rd and the 28. That’s the Pakeha’s from the South Island.

*Denotes editorial break in footage

 

Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust

This silent film footage shows performances from the ceremony to mark the investiture of 2nd Lieutenant Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu's Victoria Cross. It was held on 6 October 1943 in Ruatōria and was attended by many people including U.S. Marines who filmed the event.

This footage was shot by U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Norm Hatch and Staff Sergeant Johnny Ercole also shot footage of the event. The footage has no sound because their sound equipment was stolen during a trip to Rotorua.

U.S. Marines were sent to New Zealand for training, for upcoming battles and to recover after Guadalcanal.

Footage supplied by Susan Strange. Held at the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration.

 

© U.S. Marine Corps.

TV3 News coverage of the ceremony to honour Haane Manahi held at Te Papaiouru Marae, Ohinemutu, Rotorua on 17 March 2007. The award was attended by HRH Prince Andrew and recognised Manahi's actions during the battle of Takrouna, Tunisia.

During the ceremony the 'Te Arawa Sword of Gallantry for Haane Manahi' was presented to 28th Māori Battalion veteran, Arthur Midwood.  

Film provided via YouTube by 'billymaoribattalion'.

The Māori Battalion soldiers who had been prisoners of war (mostly captured in Greece, Crete and Libya in 1941) were liberated following the German surrender in May 1945. They arrived home later that year, several months before the main body of the Battalion returned from Italy. This National Film Unit Weekly Review film shows former POWs being welcomed at Whakarewarewa and Ōhinemutu, Rotorua.

WEEKLY REVIEW No. 209, Archives NZ - See reference on their film wiki website

This National Film Unit Weekly Review film shows the ceremony held at Ruatōria on 6 October 1943 to mark the investiture of 2nd Lieutenant Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu's Victoria Cross. More than 7000 people attended the event - described by the commentator as 'one of the greatest Maori assemblies of the century'.

The film shows kapa haka performances and food being prepared for the guests, who included the Governor-General, Sir Cyril Newall, Prime Minister Peter Fraser, returned Māori Battalion veterans and '300 schoolchildren from all over New Zealand'.

WEEKLY REVIEW No. 112, Archives New Zealand YouTube

This film shows members of the 28th Māori Battalion and other New Zealand troops at Maadi Camp in Egypt following their evacuation from Crete at the end of May 1941. Soldiers are shown washing and relaxing, while a Māori Battalion soldier shows off a German Iron Cross that he souvenired during the Battle for Crete. New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser and the commander of the NZ Division, Bernard Freyberg, are seen addressing the assembled troops.

'Return from Crete', Archives New Zealand YouTube