Media library

Video

Video by Anahera Te Moana from Te Kura Mana Māori o Whangaparāoa. This was the winning entry in the te reo Māori category of the 2021 Ngārimu video competition.

Video by Jess Jenkins of Tawa College. This was the winning entry in the bilingual category of the 2021 Ngārimu video competition.

Footage of the Māori Battalion in training 22 October 1943.

See Tumanako Thompson at 1:15

British Movietone

A news item with C Company veteran Hingangaroa Smith before the closing of the 28th (Māori) Battalion Association in December 2012.

Hinga went to sign up as a 16-year-old. He found out he had been adopted and that the name he was known as (Major Jackson) was not that listed on his birth certificate.

This Te Karere item is provided via Youtube 

Haare Te Nuku Ratana, from Te Whānau Pani of Ngāi Tūhoe embarked for war with the 10th Reinforcements and served with B Company of the 28th Māori Battalion. 

Haare arrived at the battle front during the Italian campaign. He was with B Company during the terrible Cassino Railway action on 17-18 February 1944 that decimated A and B Companies. As Lt-Col Sir James Henare stated "Of the 96 men from Mataatua and Te Arawa who followed Monty Wikiriwhi into the railway station...26 came back...Of the 100 men from Te Taitokerau who followed me across the river Rapido...40 returned...Half of the fighting strength of the Maori Battalion was lost in a single day."

Haare learnt to play piano during the war and he kept playing after the war as can be seen in this video recorded during a veterans reunion at Taupō in 2010.

Haare married Tei Rangiaukume Nuku-Ratana Tihi and together they raised their family in the Rūātoki valley. He was a skilled hunter and his builder skills were put to great use helping to build Ōwhakatoro marae at Rūātoki.

On Sunday 22nd November 2015, Haare, the last Tūhoe veteran of the 28th Māori Battalion passed away. He was 94.
Haare lay in state at the marae he helped build.  
“Tangi ai ō iwi, e koro, ki a koe. Ka riro atu nā koe, i ōhou tīpuna”
Haere atu rā e koro, e moe, okioki ai

 

Courtesy of Harima Fraser
Video recorded by Leanne Tamaki

Photographs referenced in order of appearance:
Haare Te Nuku Ratana in 2007, courtesy of Harima Fraser
Haare Te Nuku Ratana at the final luncheon for the 28th Māori Battalion Association at Wellington in December, 2012 (3 photos). Copyright Te Puni Kokiri. Photographer Michael Bradley.

 

Veteran Nolan Raihania charms the Italian crowd with his rendition of Italian classic “Mama” at a gathering during a C Company veterans’ tour in the 1999.  To his right veteran Tini Glover encourages the audience.

"Mama" is a popular song written in 1941 by Cesare Andrea Bixio. It has been performed by many singers over the years.

Lyrics
Mamma son tanto felice [first line missing from recording]
perche ritorno da te
La mia canzone ti dice
ch'e il piu' bel sogno per me
mamma son tanto felice
viver lontano perche
mamma solo per te la mia canzone vola
mamma sarai con me tu non sarai piu' sola
quanto ti voglio bene
queste parole d'amore che ti sospira il mio cuore
forse non s'usano piu'
mamma
ma la canzone piu' bella sei tu
sei tu la vita
e per la vita non ti lascio mai piu'
sento la mano tua stanca
cerca i miei riccioli d'or
sento e la voce e ti manca
la ninna nanna d'allor

oggi la testa tua Bianca
io voglio stringere al cuor
mamma solo per te la mia canzone vola
mamma sarai con me tu non sarai piu' sola
quanto ti voglio bene
queste parole d'amore che ti sospira il mio cuore
forse non s'usano piu'
mamma
ma la canzone piu' bella sei tu
sei tu la vita
e per la vita non ti lascio mai piu'
mamma mai piu'

Video: Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust
Photo: Nolan Raihania at the closing ceremony of the 28th Maori Battalion Association in Wellington, December 2012.
Copyright: Te Puni Kōkiri, photographer: Michael Bradley

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

During a tour to Italy in 1999 Barry Soutar conveys the story of an Italian soldier who lived at casa Della Cura near the towns of Forli and Faenza. C Company were tasked with capturing this and casas Pogliano and Baccarina on December 14th, 1944.

Transcript

Barry Soutar: He and his brother were living in the house. He was an Italian soldier in the Italian army and he deserted, he deserted the army to go fight for the freedom of Italy. And he and his brother were in this house, the Germans came and they took him at gunpoint from out the front of the house …. They took him at gunpoint around the back of the house over here and he knew he was going to die, and he ran. He and his brother ran and they went and lived in the mountains for 8 months. The only thing he carried with him was a blanket and his clothes. And Jo and I were here, we told him that my uncle got killed just across the road trying to attack this house. And he told me, he under, he really felt very sorry for us and that he could understand, he could not understand how a Maori man would come from 14,000 miles away to save his house. He couldn’t understand how 55 years later another Maori man could come just to find his uncle. And he said, your uncle and 7 of his cousins lost their lives in his front lawn. And he said I want to tell you that 45 of my relatives and friends had their throats cut by the fascists, over here. And he said, so therefore he could understand the feelings that were going through us. I told him in January that in September I would come back with my family. And I just told him – here’s my family.

Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust

C Company veteran Hingangaroa Smith recounts the action to capture the casas Pogliano, Baccarina and Della Cura near the towns of Forli and Faenza undertaken on December 14th, 1944. Veteran Nolan Raihania to his left provides support.

This footage was taken at Casa Della Cura during a tour to Italy in 1999.

Transcript

Hinga Smith: The railway line is there. 15 Platoon came down that side. 14 come down the middle and we come down the side there, 13. Ah, when they got to this house there were some Germans here and tanks and there were. And they got into a house over there, Lt Paniora, and uh and uh Sam and uh

Hinga to Nolan Raihania: who was that Sergeant? ahh Wanoa
Nolan Raihania: Yes, Wanoa
Hinga Smith: Albert Wanoa.
Hinga to Nolan Raihania: Who else was there?

Hinga Smith: Anyway there were a few that got caught in there. But the Germans were in there and the tanks around the back. But these fullas come out, these Germans had started stretching themselves and uh it was too much for those fullas in that house over there, they shot him. From there, from the house. And that’s when the German’s brought their tanks and blew the house down. With the fullas in it. But later on, in the afternoon, we’d uh, we called for smoke to come down and cover all this area so we could take off up the way we came. And we ended up that night being back where we started from.  Because these Germans in here held us up with their tanks.
If I, if I could see the fulla that owns it.

Nolan Raihania: We can’t fight next [?]

*Hinga Smith: 13 was over there boy, in the house over there. We had to leave that house where these fullas [unintelligible]. Couldn’t get this house. Is the main road ... was along there somewhere ne? Is the road along there? He rori kai mua? Well that’s the road we were trying to cut.
And Sam and them was killed in a place away from this. If that fulla said there was a house over there, well that’s it.

Nolan Raihania: The house is not there now?

Hinga Smith: No it’s not there.

*Hinga Smith: We left up there about 6 or 7. We came down the road, there used to be vineyards all the way up and we came down the tracks and the German’s had sown mines along the track, especially where 13 company. Blew fullas legs off, like Rongo, no Sam, Sam or Rongo or Peter’s. One of those fullas legs, it was here. And there were some Germans in the haystack over there, yelled out to ‘Comarade’ when we went past into the house.

Monty Soutar: Was that your start line uncle? Was that your start line way back there?

Hinga Smith: Yeah up in the hill.

Monty Soutar: The one they called Ruatoria?

Hinga Smith: Yeah, yeah, that’s it. Yeah, up there. Ruatoria’s up there. That’s where we all started from.  When we came here, we came around the back and over there.

Taina McGregor: Why did you fullas call it Ruatoria?

Hinga Smith: Well, we had to have a starting line and uh, and uh

Nolan Raihania: That was the code name

Hinga Smith: That’s the code name we had.

[They couldn’t break the code]

Nolan Raihania: They couldn’t break the code.

Hinga Smith: It would have been alright in that house if they hadn’t shot these Germans that were walking around here. Yeah, if they’d left them alone, they wouldn’t have known they were in that house. Everything would’ve been alright.

 

Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust

Veteran Nolan Raihania recites ‘The Ode’ at the Florence War Cemetery during a tour undertaken by C Company veterans and their families to Italy in 1999.

Transcript

Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

E kore ratau e korouatia
Penei me tatau kua mahue ake nei
E kore hoki ratau e ngoikore
Ahakoa nga pehi o te ao hurihuri nei
I te toenga atu o te ra
Tae noa ki tona aranga ake
Ka maumahara tonu tatau kia ratau

Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust

This is one of a series of interviews conducted as part of an oral and photographic history of C Company of the 28th Māori Battalion.  The project commenced in 1994 and the Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust (Box 399, Gisborne) hold the recordings on behalf of the descendants of C Company.

Miki Harrison was born 2 May 1916 and was the son of Ned Harrison of Waipiro Bay and Pera Poutu of Wharekahika.  In the full interview Miki recounts his experiences with the Maori Battalion, from training in New Zealand in 1939 to fighting in Greece in 1941 where he was captured. He also talks about his time in Germany in a Prisoner of War camp which only ended in 1945.  

The interviewer is Tamati (Tom) Fox supported by his mother's brother John McIlroy, both originally from the Waipiro Bay area.  John was with the Sixth Maori Reinforcements and caught up with the Battalion in Egypt in 1941.  Monty Soutar is on camera and Pia Pohatu is also present.  Both were members of the C Company oral and photographic research team and also from the area.  The interview took place at Miki's residence in Te Puia Springs, 24 November 1994.

Transcript (edited)

Tom:  Now on the 16th of April you made contact with the enemy at Petras Pass, Mt Olympus.

Miki Harrison:  Mt Olympus.  That's right, we were, we were up at Olympus when the Germans started coming in.  We looked down at the, down and we could see them coming on the [other side of the Mavroneri Gorge]. That's where Paiki and, not Paiki, Percy [Goldsmith] we were looking at ... and we saw two lizards (John: Ae, he tino tohu pai. (Yes, that's a favourable omen) on a branch, whaiwhai ana, whai haeretanga te (chasing each other, the [green one] was chasing the), what's the colour of our uniform?

Tom:  Khaki

Miki:  Oh khaki, the green one was chasing the khaki.  Ko mea mai a Percy (Percy said to me), "Gee we're going to be chased out of here, look." (Tom: yeah.)  And I said, "what?"
"See those lizards there (Tom: Go on.) the green one chasing the khaki one."

Tom: Go on, eh?  Well look at that.

Miki: Look at that and that's what happened.

Tom: E kī, he tohu. Rite tonu ngā tohu. Kua kite i tēnā tohu, nē?
(Well, an omen.  Just like premonitions.  You had seen that omen, eh?)

John:  Ae, tērā pea te mea, te mea te lizard tonu, kai te ngaro tonu te tohu, kāre tēnei i te tohu pai. Kai te mohio koe te taima i mate ai a Mum, nē? Arā mātau i Tōrere, māua, māua ko te fulla Harold Drake.  "E tā, Harold, kaua."  Awhina te katakata mai I tua mai i Tōrere i rō manuka nei na, yeah. And i te kōrero tāna ki a Mum, you know, "Tukuna." Kāre i tino pai ki a rātau. Hika, not long, ka mate te old lady. Mmm. Tēnā tohu tēnā ... I never forget that(?)
(Yes, perhaps that thing, the lizard, we've lost its meaning, for this was not a portent of good. You recall the time Mum died, eh? There we were at Tōrere, Harold Drake and I. "E tā, Harold, don't [do that to the lizard]." I was laughing with him. [This was] on the other side of Tōrere in this manuka grove, yeah.  And he was talking to Mum, you know, [and she said,] "Let it go." They did not like it. Well, not long after the old lady died. Mmm. That's that ... I never forget that.(?)

Tom: Nē? Ināianei he tohu tēnā ki a tātau i te Māori, nē?  (Eh? Nowadays, that's a sign to us Maori, eh?)

Miki:  Oh yes. It happened to me on the boat [i.e. Aquitania troopship in May 1940]. (Tom:  Go on.) I was having a rest, rest period at that time.  I was looking through the port hole and a bloody bird swoosh, flew past me into the [room]... buggar he rūrū (it was an owl).

Tom: Nē? he rūrū? (Eh? An owl?) Go on.

Miki:  Bloody kaitiaki (spiritual guardians) was there all around.

John: Engari, he tohu pai wēnā. (However those are good omens.)

Miki:  After awhile I felt nice, safe, gee, I felt good.

Tom: Oh yeah.  Ka pai..

John: Ko Percy tonu pea tētahi o koutou i mate i runga i te pōti rānei. A Percy Goldsmith rā?  (Was Percy one of those who died on the boat? Percy Goldsmith.)

Miki: A, i mate rā ia i te wāpu rā (Yes, he died at that wharf).  [i.e. Port of Piraeus, Athens on 24 April 1941.] Oh poor bugger, koia te mea ka mate (he was the one who was killed).  Tīhore mai nga [whēkau], (his [intestines] were laid bare) opened up).  Koia te karanga mai a ia (That's when he called to me), "brother I'm buggered, shoot me"

John: Ko wai tēnā? (Who is that?)

Miki:  Ko Percy (Percy said), "Come on shoot me".  (Tom: Go on, eh).  And another Pommie boy came crawling up.  All his hands were shattered and half of his face here was taken off.  And I thought, well, if I have to shoot you, I have to shoot him too.   I don't want two on my hands.  It's a thing that, well I thought at that time, if I shoot him it will stay here for the rest of my life.  Even now and again I hear that, i a ia e karanga ana (him calling to me), ‘Brother, brother, shoot me!'

Tom: Still haunts you now, eh? Comes back to you.

John:  Tangi Ehau told me everything about that, you know that when they got bombed.  Oh yeah, it must've been bad.

Miki:  So I turned away from him and I could hear him, "You gutless bastard."

Tom: Go on eh, that's what he said to you?

John:  Kua mohio aia, kua mutu kē, eh? (He must have known he was finished, eh?) Must've been.

Tom:  And he died.  Was the whole stomach here blown out?

Miki:  Koirā, i a ia e kōrero nei. (That's what he said.) Now and again when I think of him, I still see it.

John:  You never forget those things, eh? Once you see them, they're always there.

Miki:  Yeah, koirā te mea mai (that's what he said), "You gutless bastard"

John:  Koirā i kōrero nei a Tangi ki ahau, Tangi Ehau, koia hoki tētahi.  Kāhia hoki te pōti
(That's what Tangi told me, Tangi Ehau, he was one of them.  The boat was on fire).

Tom:  Mmm.  Ka mau te wehi Mick, ka mau rā te wehi, nē rā?  (Too much Mick, too much, eh?)

Miki:  He's the one I always think of, you know now and again, i hurihuri haere [ngā whakaaro] (when your mind wanders), always thinking, I'll never forget.

John:  Kua koa toa, ki atu koe tērā te ahua. (?)

Tom:  Ok, i whea tēnā (Where was that)?

Miki:  At Athens, the Port of Athens,

Tom:  Athens, oh yeah.

The portions of the transcript with (?) after the text were difficult to transcribe or translate.  If any user is able to determine what is being said, please contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the Hellas, which was bombed at the Port of Piraeus, Athens.

 

Nga Taonga a Nga Tamatoa Trust
This excerpt has been reproduced with the permission of Sonia Clarke daughter of Miki Harrison.

In late March 1941 the Second New Zealand Division was sent from Egypt to Greece. While the bulk of the 730-strong Maori Battalion entrained to Mt Olympus to defend northern Greece a 90-strong Māori reinforcement company was left with other New Zealand reinforcements at Voula near Athens.  They were to reinforce their battalions if and when required.  When the troops were evacuated from Greece at the end of April the Reinforcement Company headed south but were captured at Kalamata. 

In this video clip Sir Henare Ngata an officer in the Māori Battalion and the youngest son of Sir Apirana Ngata recounts the trip south and the Reinforcement Company's capture by the Germans. In the full interview he recounts his experiences from training in New Zealand in 1939 to fighting in Greece in 1941 where he was captured. He also talks about his time in Germany in a Prisoner of War camp which only ended in 1945. 

This is one of a series of interviews conducted as part of an oral and photographic history of C Company of the 28th Māori Battalion.  The project commenced in 1994 and the Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust (Box 399, Gisborne) hold the recordings on behalf of the descendants of C Company.

The interviewer is Tom Fox supported by Monty Soutar (project leader) and Hirini Reedy (then a captain in the NZ Army) and Tata Lawton (camerman). It was recorded 24 April 1995 at Sir Henare Ngata's residence in Gisborne. 

Transcript (edited)

Well there wasn't much organisation when you're in flight; there's not a great deal of organisation, almost everyman for himself.  Where the Battalion was I don't know we never ever made contact with the Battalion.  Whether they were behind us or whether ahead of us, I don't know.  We moved south. 

Question: Just your platoon or company, group?
The Reinforcements

Question: The Reinforcements still intact?
Well more or less.  [There were] A lot of empty trucks moving.  When you ran out of petrol you just tipped your truck over the side of the road and dive into the nearest ravine and hopped onto the next truck.  And that's where we finished up.  We finished up at a place called Kalamata.  We finished up there because there was nowhere else to go further south.  (Except the sea)  That was supposed to have been the port that we where we to embark from and I don't know to this day where the Battalion embarked from.  The first night we were at Kalamata we fancied we could hear ships out at sea.  Whether they were any there or not I don't know.  But there were literally thousands of people there.  

Question: Uniformed people? 
Yes there were New Zealanders, Australians, Yugoslavians - huge number of Yugoslavians there, Palestinians, British.  There was a brigadier there, Pom brigadier, I've forgotten his name.  Poor beggar, I suppose because he was a brigadier everyone expected him to organise the shambles, because nothing happened I suppose everyone pointed the finger at him.  But certainly we didn't get off that night.  Whether anyone got off, whether in fact any ships came in I don't know. Everything had to be blacked out anyway.  In the meantime we knew the Germans were fairly close to the township.  Next night they came, there was some fighting in the streets and so on.  That's where a chap Hulme got his VC.  There was a chap with him, a chap Horopapera, all sorts of stories that he should've got a VC too.  Whether it was so or not I don't know.  He was shot through the lower jaw.  I saw him briefly after the war, we were in England, and I asked him about the stories and well, whether that's the dinkum or not I don't know.  So we ran out of space and we ran out of time.

Question: Just waiting for the inevitable?
Well, waiting for something.  But what turned up on the final day, 29th of April 1941 the Germans came.  Panzer troops came and occupied.

Question: Just rounded everybody up?
Yeah, rounded everybody up.  Well rounded up the officers particularly.  There'd been some casualties, some deaths the night before.  All dumped in the back of the truck like carcases of meat. These German Officers were very curious to know who we were with New Zealand patches and dark faces.  So that's how we were rounded up.  So you can be cynical in later years as to why they ever sent such a poorly equipped force into a place such as that.  However, that's what happened.   We spent five weeks in a place called Corinth, Corinth Camp.  It was during that period that the attack on Crete took place.  From time to time they had to our change guards.  I recall some of these paratroopers they were assigned to guard us - young fellas, they all looked young.  We were young ourselves and these fellas looked like kids compared with us.  Young, fit, all bursting with energy.  Then we'd see them go out, planes fly out, together with troop carrying planes going out.  And the next night these fellas would come back, about three nights in succession I think. They'd ome back to, I don't know not coming back, but they had paratroopers to guard us and then they disappeared.  We knew nothing of what happened what was happening in Crete, no news whatever, till a long time afterwards.  There were six of us Maori officers: myself, Jimmy Wiremu and Henry Hokianga - the three of us were with the Reinforcement unit - then there was, oh and Bill Herewini, he was also with the Reinforcement unit.  The other two were Tenga Rangi, who was separated from the Main Body of the Battalion.  He was the officer in charge of the... Tenga and... George Bennett.  George Bennett was in command, had the bren carriers under his command.  I've forgotten what Tenga's command was [note: 2/Lt Rangi was in charge of the mortar platoon] but they were separated from the Battalion and they found themselves with us. So they were taken prisoner.

Question: Within that five weeks stay in that camp what was the treatment like?
[There] Was hardly any food.  Physical treatment was alright.  A whole lot of other troops there with us.  We had with us a dental unit; a New Zealand Dental unit were right up in the front line.  Why that should be so I don't know.  And then we had one of these chaps with us, two or three of them with us and in the mornings at medical parade one of these dentists had to deal with people who wanted dental treatment.  I think he only had a left jaw pliers or whatever it was and he used to, whatever the complaint was he'd yank the tooth out.  We were there about five weeks, we moved from there to Salonika and then to Germany.

Nga Taonga a Nga Tamatoa Trust.
This excerpt has been reproduced with the permission of Sir Henare Ngata.