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.