Sir Apirana Ngata writes to the Reverend Wharetini Rangi just after the battle at Point 209 where Te Moananui a Kiwa Ngarimu VC was killed.
Poneke, Mei 14, 1943
Ki a Te Wharetini,
Tena koe me te morehu o nga tamariki e whakatutuki mai na i te mahi i haerea atu ai e ratau. Ka nui te aroha atu ki a koutou katoa, mo nga rongo e hau mai nei i Tunihia, mo te whakamomori nana i kawe ka tae atu te mahi ki tenei wahi. Kei te tangi atu ki nga mea kua aitua o nga iwi katoa. Ana nga tihi o nga whakapapa kua hinga mai na, a ko te mea i hangai mai ki to iwi e tangi atu nei ko te tama a Hamuera Ngarimu. E ai ana, kua haere i te ara o ona tipuna, i te kawa i kiia ai ratau he rangatira, he toa. Kua tangihia e matau i te kainga nei. No te ra i hinga ai tona tipuna a Hokianga, pouaru a Pehikuru, i Mangahanea ka tae mai tona rongo. No muri ko etahi o ratau o nga mea i mate rawa, i tae [a]tu hoki i te kokiri i El Hamma. No muri mai ko te rongo i Takrouna. Ka haere tahi mai nga rongo toa whakamiharo me te kaupapa haro o te hunga i aitua. Tenei kei te kite iho i a Tuhoe, i a Ngati Awa, i a Matatua tae atu ki te Whanau a Apanui me nga tamariki o etahi atu wahi.
No te wa enei rongo i a matau e tohe ana i konei kia tukua nui tia atu nga tamariki o te Second Battallion hei tiriwa mo nga aitua a hei huarahi hoki e taea ai te whakahoki mai nga mea kua roa rawa ki kona. He roa tenei take e pakangatia ana i konei a no tera atu wiki katahi ano ka whakamarotia e nga mana te korero kia haere atu nga tamariki o te Ropu i waiho iho nei e koe i Ohaeawai. Ko taku tono kia 400 e tuku atu, kaati na te kore ruuma i runga i te tima ka haere atu e 250. Pera ano nga Apiha, tokorima i kowhiria hei mau atu i tenei ope. Naku i tohe ka nukuhia ki te 11, kia whai huarahi ai hei whakahoki mai i etahi o ena ki te kainga nei whakata ai. Na tena i uru atu ai a Everard Jackson me Hori Tamahori o to taua nei takiwa, me Raureti raua ko Riki Smith o te rohe o te Wairoa. Kaore i taea ta Takurua hei ahuatanga mo Tuhoe, na Bertrand i whiti ko Pile o Whakatane. Pera ano a Jack Waititi o te Whanau a Apanui. Ko Wi a Materoa tetahi i mahue iho me etahi atu o ratau.
Ka noho iho o te 2nd Battalion kei waenganui i te 300 me te 350. Kei te whakawhaititia enei ki Ohaeawai, a hei muri atu ka nukuhia mai ki Rotorua ranei ki Pamutana ranei, tatari ai ki te wa mo ratau. Ko tana wa kei te Atua te whakaaro, kei te ahua hoki o te haere a te pakanga nei. Kei konei au nei e titiro atu ana, e ui ana ka pehea ra i muri o Tunihia? Ka whakahokia mai ranei te Ope o Nui Tireni, ka waiho atu ano ranei hei matakokiri mo te wa e whakawhiti ai ki rawahi o te moana na? Ki te whakahokia mai hei titiro atu ki tenei o nga marae o te riri i te Tiapana nei, ka mau iho enei o nga tamariki, a ka mate roto o ratau na whakaaro. Ki te puritia atu i tawahi na mo nga kokiri o muri ake nei ko te tikanga ka whai atu enei i roto i te toru marama pea.
Na kei te rangaia he Ope Tuatoru hei haere ki nga motu, a kei te waiho mai he ruuma mo ratau i roto i te 3rd N.Z. Division kei Niu Karetonia tera ope e noho mai ana. Kei te whakawhaitia taua Ope Maori Tuatoru i naianei, a kei te uaua. Kua whakatakere te ahua o nga iwi onga ki te haere ki waho o Nui Tireni, a na te ope Tuatoru nei i kitea ai kei whea nga wahi mama p te Iwi Maori, kei whea nga waahi whakakeke. Kua ki atu au ki nga mana i konei taihoa te Tairawhiti e karanga. Ko tona kaute kua haina mo te haere ki waho e tata ana ki te toru rau, kua ngau ki roto rawa o te tangata. Kia pau rawa te whawha nga tamariki kei roto i te Territorial, kia pau hoki te kaha o te mahi recruiting katahi ka whawha ai ki te puna whakato tangata o te Tairawhiti. Kua tae au ki te korero ki a Ngapuhi i muri i te matenga o Paikea, kia kaua e waiho e ratau maku anake e whakatutuki te riri nei, engari me whakahoki mai a ratau tamariki i kuhukuhu ki roto ki te Territorial i te arahi he a etahi o ratau. Kaati tera e mahinga nui te tapitapi i tenei o nga ope, a hei tenei ka pau te kaha, me te tu tonu mai o te roanga atu o te pakanga nei.
Ka mohio mai ai koutou ki te ahua o muri nei, kei te herea e matau te nuinga o te 2nd Battalion hei rahui mo te Ope i kona, a kua whakaaetia e ratau he ope hou mo te haere ki nga motu, mo te k[a]nohi kitea o te Maori, kei waiho hei korero i roto i nga whakatipuranga kaore te konihi Maori i kitea ki tenei o nga marae o te riri. Ara tetahi, hei whakautu i nga maharahara i roto i te Pakeha kei te whai kaupapa ano i roto i te Maori te whakawhirinaki o te mahara ki te Tiapani, ina hoki ka kore e haere ki te wahi e riri ai ki tera iwi.
Kaati tera koutou e rongo mai kei te whakaki ano te Tairawhiti i tenei o nga ope. Ko etahi o nga tamariki i apiha mo te haere atu ki kona kua huri ki tenei o nga marae. Ko nga mea i puritia e au mo te ope o te taha ki te rawhiti nei ko Wi a Materoa, ko Nepia a te Hamana, ko Hori mokopuna aku nei. Ko ta Takurua, me Tiaki Waititi o Tuhoe me te Whanau a Apanui. Ki te huri ke hoki te ahua o te pakanga nei, a ka whakhokia mai koutou kaati ka ahu nga morehu nei ki nga motu.
Kei te pai te wairua o nga iwi o te taha ki a taua nei, mai i a Te Arawa huri mai, kei te pau te kaha ki nga ahua katoa o te whawhai. Kaati ma te whakatakere tonu o te tangata e kore ai e taea a ko atu. Nui atu taku mihi ki a Matatua mo to ratau kaha. Mau tonu e kite mai i a ratau e haere atu ana, a tenei ano a muri. Kua whawhatia e te Recruiting Committe o Tuhoe ona topito katoa, a kaore he karanga o te riri e whakahapaia e ratau. Haunga hoki a Te Arawa kua pau tonu atu i tona matamua ano ki te whakapau i tona kaha. Ko to waka ko Horouta kua kahekahe noa atu, atu i a Ngai Tai tae noa ki te riu o Turanga. Otira e rite ana ki te kakahu maku, ka whakawiria ka puta mai ano te waitau. Na reira kaore ano i pau te kaha o te hiahia o te tamariki, ko matau tonu ko nga pakeke kei te ahua puripuri.
Kaati ena wahi. Mo te taha ki nga tuunga Minita i tawahi na, ko te whakaaro i te wa i hoki mai ia a Te Hokena, a ko nga tuhituhi mai hoki a te tamaiti a Teneti ki te papa, me te mea nei e tika ana kia whakahokia mai koe ki te kainga nei. I whakaae tonu au ki tera i te hokinga mai nei o Te Harawira, a i te mea kua paraia e korua e nga kaumatua te huarahi, ka nui tena. Otia i te hokinga mai nei o Pine ka korero i to koutou ahua i te Base, ko koe tonu kei te whakato i te wairua ora, i te wairua u ki te mahi i tukua atu ai. Na he mea nui tenei hei whakaarohanga atu i konei. Kua korero atu au ki a Wi Huata kia whakareri i a ia mo te haere atu mehemea koe ka hoki mai, he tamaiti pai, a e tika ana i runga i te kauwhau o nga tamariki kua whiti atu, kei kona etahi o ratau, a kei konei te taina e rika ana ki te haere atu. Kaati kei te korero au ki a Te Hokena waiho atu koe i tenei wa mo tena ahua e whakaatu mai nei a Pine.
Ko Panapa tonu kei te tiaki tamariki, engari ko te ope haere ki nga motu tera pea e tukua ki te Katorika hei minita.
Ma enei tamariki ka haere atu nei e mau atu te aroha o nga iwi katoa ki a koutou, a mo nga korero e taea e ratau te kawe atu. Ka whai atu o matau aroha i a ratau ki a koutou tae noa atu ki te iwi nana i kawe te whawhai kia tae ki te patanga atu o te hoariri i Awherika. Ma te atua koutou e tiaki, e whakakaha i roto i nga tini putanga ketanga o te whawhai nei.
Kei konei maua ko to tuahine, ko Tearanga Potae, ko Tawhai Tamepo ma ki te poroporoaki ki nga tamariki i runga i te ahua o o ratau iwi maha.
Na to papa aroha nui
Greetings to you, the elder among our youth engaged in the task for which they have journeyed to accomplish. Our feelings for you run deep especially after the news we have had about Tunisia and the stand that took the battle to such heights. We mourn the fallen and the wounded from all tribes, to the high born of many lines of descent that have paid the price, especially the one closely allied to you, mourned by your people, the son of Hamuera Ngarimu.
It was destined that he follows the path of his ancestors. We at home have mourned him. It was the day his elder, Hokianga, widow of Pehikura was laid in state at Mangahanea that the news came to us. Later, we heard of others who lost their lives, or suffered in the advance on El Hamma. Then later, the news about Takrouna. We gathered the descriptions of their bravery and victory along with amazing stories about those who were injured in action. We can but imagine those of Tuhoe, Ngati Awa, Mataatua, along with Whanau a Apanui and the young men from other tribes.
All this information came to us at a time when we were urging that more men, from a second battalion, be sent as re-inforcements for the fallen and the wounded, also giving us a reason to bring home the battle weary.
We have been persistent on the matter of reinforcements for some time, but it came to a head the week before last, when the tribal elders insisted that those you left in Ohaeawai be sent over. I asked that 400 reinforcements be released, but lack of space on the ship, brought the number down to 250. Similarly with the officers, five were chosen to go with these troops. I argued for 11 officers to be sent, so that we could bring some now in service, home to rest.
It was with those re-inforcements that we were able to include Everard Jackson and George Tamahori from your iwi and Raureti and Riki Smith from the Wairoa district. Takurua’s request for Tuhoe to send re-inforcements was blocked by Bertrand swapping Pile of Whakatane to go instead. It was the same for Jack Waititi of Whanau a Apanui. Wi, Materoa’s son was one of those left along with others.
That leaves 300 to 350 of the second battalion. These are being mustered at Ohaeawai, later they will be moved either to Rotorua or Palmerston to await their time.That time will be left for the Lord to decide. It will depend on how the battle fares. I’ve been thinking hard about what might happen after Tunisia. Will the New Zealand Division come home or will they be held as an advance group to spearhead things after crossing the ocean there, if you are held back.
If the troops are brought back to face the Japanese, with the additional troops held as reserves at home, might be disappointing, but if they are held in the northern hemisphere for battles ahead, the group at home should be travelling within three months, perhaps?
A third group is being rallied to go to the islands and they could join the ranks of the 3rd NZ Division which is currently based in New Caledonia.
The third Maori group is being assembled at this moment but it is difficult, as iwi are like stragglers, who do not favour their sons being enticed to leave New Zealand. They are looking at which places might be suitable, and which they may rebel against. I have asked the tribal leaders not to call on te Tairawhiti at this time. They have already had three hundred who have signed up to go overseas. This is really hurting families. Look first to those young men in the Territorials and work harder at recruiting. When those avenues are exhausted, then they may dip into the wellspring of men to the east. I met with Ngapuhi after Paikea died, and asked them not to leave it all to me alone to deal with this war. Instead, they should recall their youth from the Territorials, who are there on misguided advice from some of them. It has been a tremendously hard task, putting things right with this force. With all this my energy wanes, and yet the war still rages on.
So that you are aware of what we are doing here at home, we are setting aside the 2nd Battalion purely as reinforcements for you who are at the battlefront. They have agreed that a new group be recruited to go to the islands so that Maori will have a presence. This will prevent future generations from accusing Maori that his face was not seen in this theatre of the war. It also serves as a response to Pakeha, that Maori are also concerned about Japan’s entry into the war and that they will also be seen playing their part on that battlefront too.
That is that. You must know Tairawhiti is gathering together a group of men, some of whom are young officers who were to have gone over to join you, will now meet up with you on a new front. I purposely withheld for the East Coast company, Wi, Materoa’s son, Nepia, Hamana’s son, George, my own grandson, along withTakurua’s choice from Tuhoe and Jack Waititi’s of Whanau a Apanui.
Should things turn drastically bad for us, you will come home, and the group I have just mentioned will go to the islands.
Our people, those we have strong affiliations with, are in very good spirits, from Te Arawa down, they are deeply engaged with the war effort. It is only when people get totally unreasonable, that things get really tough, that no progress is made. I greatly admire the efforts of the people of Mataatua. They present a united front, as strong now as ever. The Recuiting Committee in Tuhoe has closed their recruiting centres, and they no longer support the call to arms. Te Arawa gave its all from the very beginning. The Horouta area has long been like a delapidated car, from Ngai Tai, to the river plain of Gisborne, can now be likened to a wet cloth. The more you wring it, the more young fighting men you get. All in all, we aren’t completely devoid of young men eager to enter the fray. We, their elders, are the ones holding some of them back.
Enough on those matters. In terms of the positions of chaplain overseas. When Hogan returned home he had a letter from Teneti’s son to his father, saying he thought it was time that you were sent home. I was thinking along those lines when Harawira came home. You have paved the way and it was time for you the elders to come home. You have served well. However, when Pine came home he told us about the Base, that you are a source of inspiration, and a role model for our young men sent to war. This is important and a matter we have given much thought to here at home. I spoke to Wi Huata and asked him to prepare himself to fill your position when you come home. He is a good man and according to what we hear about him, is eager, and has relations serving with the battalion. I will be speaking to Hogan to leave you there because of the things Pine has apprised us of. Panapa has children and if a battalion goes to the islands the Catholic Church may send a priest.
Along with all our tribes your people send their love with the young soldiers I mentioned earlier, we’ll also gather news that we can send. Our love to you all follows them to you, and to those who took the battle right up to the enemy in Africa. May the Lord bless you. May the Lord keep you in His care and strengthen you to face all adversity, in whatever form it comes during this war.
I am here with your sister, Tearanga Potae, and Tawhai Tamepo and others all sending their tears to our young men in the fashion of their relatives,from all our tribes.
From your loving father
Published with the permission of the Ngata family
English translation by Whairiri Ngata
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.