Lieutenant Colonel Arapata Marukitepua Pitapitanuiaranga AWATERE
Arapeta Marukitepua Pitapitanuiarangi Awatere (whose name is also recorded as Te Arapeta Pitameirangi Marukitepua Awatere) was born on 25 April 1910 at Tuparoa, on the East Coast, to Petuere Wi Hekopa Awatere, a farmer of Te Whanau-a-Hinetapora hapu of Ngati Porou, and his wife, Heni Hautao, also known as Heni Pratt (Parata). The family name was taken from the Awatere River, where Arapeta's great-grandfather, Te Whetukamokamo, had died in battle against a Nga Puhi force. Later, Ngati Hine of Nga Puhi sent young rangatira women and men to intermarry with Ngati Porou to ensure a lasting peace. Awatere's maternal grandfather, Wiremu Parata Moihi Ka of Ngati Hine, was accepted into Ngati Porou in the same spirit of reconciliation. While Arapeta was still an infant his mother took him by boat to Whangaruru to her marae, Pipiwai, to be raised by a relative, Heni Maahanga. As they were being transported to shore, waves swamped the rowing boat. The sleeping infant's head was submerged several times, but he did not wake up. This was interpreted as a sign that he would one day play an important role for his people. Awatere's pito (umbilical cord) was buried in the wahi tapu (sacred ground) in front of the hall on the marae: it was symbolic of the return of a long lost family to the north.
Awatere returned to the East Coast at the age of six and spent the rest of his childhood under the guidance and tuition of his Ngati Porou relations. He learned Maori lore from respected tohunga, including Pineamine Tamahori. At the whare wananga (houses of learning) Umuariki andRuataupare at Tuparoa, Awatere was trained in karakia, whaikorero (oratory) and whakapapa, and the history and use of ancient weapons. He won the taiaha Tuwhakairiora for his prowess with weaponry. When he attended the native schools at Tuparoa and Tokomaru Bay it always struck him as odd that pupils were not allowed to speak Maori. He eventually spoke fluently in many languages and could quote poetry in Latin, Greek and English.
After Awatere's parents died he left Tuparoa to work as a sailor to pay his way at high school. He attended Te Aute College in Hawke's Bay, and during school holidays went back to the ships to earn money. He passed the interpreters' first grade examination in Maori in 1925. After leaving school he joined the Native Department in 1928 and was stationed at Rotorua, Wellington and, from 1933, Gisborne. While there he was a member of the Kaiti School Committee, organiser and secretary of the Maori Voluntary Welfare Workers at Kaiti and a physical instructor at the Gisborne YMCA. Awatere married Elsie Bella Rogers of Ngati Whakaue at Ohinemutu on 17 January 1931; they were to have five daughters.
In 1928 he joined the New Zealand Territorial Force and studied the great figures of European military history. Awatere was successfully to combine the Maori and European military traditions during the Second World War. He enlisted in November 1939, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in March 1940. Posted to the 28th New Zealand (Maori) Battalion after the campaigns in Greece and Crete, he served as an intelligence officer with the battalion and with the 6th New Zealand Infantry Brigade. With rank of captain (temporary major), he commanded C Company in the fighting at Tebaga Gap in 1943 and was awarded the Military Cross. Promoted tolieutenant colonel, he was placed in command of the Maori Battalion in November and awarded the DSO after the fighting at Faenza in northern Italy in December.
Apirana Ngata had opposed Awatere's taking command of the Maori Battalion on the grounds of a supposed inherited stubborn streak that would not be in the battalion's interests. In fact Awatere was not at all reckless about the lives of his comrades, and it pained him deeply that so many were killed. He later wrote numerous poems in remembrance of his fallen comrades. He was a determined commander who led from the front and gave no quarter: there were persistent rumours about the mistreatment, even killing, of prisoners. Awatere was both feared and admired by his men. On his instructions his men communicated in Maori, and in Maori code when they were on the front line or during reconnaisance to avoid eavesdropping by the enemy.
After his return to New Zealand in August 1945, Awatere spent two years on the road with Eruera Stirling, honouring the fallen soldiers of the Maori Battalion at hundreds of marae around the country. After this he rarely spoke of the war. He participated in two separate rituals of purification to release himself from the effects of warfare.
In 194849 Awatere established a short-lived seafood business before rejoining the Department of Maori Affairs. He took university courses in anthropology, philosophy and Maori in 1952 and in philosophy in 1955, and did extensive research into Maori history and ethnography. He served as a Maori district welfare officer in Wanganui (from 1953), Rotorua (from 1958) and Auckland (from 1959). Awatere was known to spend his own salary on this welfare work and to give clothes or money to those in need. In Auckland he led a haka team, Maranga, and a choral group, the Aotearoa Folklore Society. They participated in competitions, toured the country and travelled to Samoa and the Cook Islands. He was elected to the Auckland City Council in 1962, serving until 1969. In 1963 he was chosen to perform in the ceremonial challenge in front of Queen Elizabeth IIat Waitangi, an honour that overwhelmed him. He used his taiaha, Tuwhakairiora, which was made to fit a man over six feet tall. Awatere was not tall, but stocky and extremely strong and had practised constantly in order to master the use of the weapon.
Awatere did not sleep much, and when he did he preferred the floor. He seemed to his family to be up all night, composing choral pieces on the piano or writing pages of poetry in Maori, which he then translated into English. He was passionate about everything that pertained to the Maori world, including the language. He opposed the use of the macron in written Maori, preferring the double or triple vowel. He immersed himself in whakapapa and tribal history, and composed numerous waiata. During long car journeys to the many hui he attended, he would chant these in a droning monotone.
Awatere's health deteriorated in the 1960s. He suffered a stroke and developed diabetes, which was not diagnosed until severe physical damage had been done. In 1965 he began an extramarital relationship with Tuini Hakaraia. In 1969 Hakaraia took up with Hendrik Vunderink. On 2 August Awatere experienced several rehu (premonitions) that Hakaraia was in danger. Earlyon the morning of 3 August he went to her home in Te Atatu, and during an altercation stabbed Vunderink with a knife he was carrying in his overcoat. Awatere was charged with murder. His defence was that his diabetes had created a psychosis, but there was conflicting evidence as to whether he had been fully conscious of his actions. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
In prison, Awatere continued to write and compose and to keep abreast of Maori political and social events, and he produced an extensive collection of writings on Maoritanga. He had a constant stream of visitors and taught and mentored students from university, or anyone who had a thirst for Maori knowledge. Awatere began haka groups in prison, and taught Maori to other prisoners. He involved himself in many other intellectual pursuits, including teaching himself Japanese.
His death, on 6 March 1976, was completely unexpected. He had reached a point of excellent health and fitness and was looking forward to his imminent parole. He was intending to return to Tuparoa and to rebuild the wharenui, Tangihaere. He was survived by his wife and children.
Arapeta Awatere's tangihanga was enormous. It took the funeral cortège several days to travel between Auckland and Tuparoa. Circuitous routes were taken in a vain effort to avoid the many marae that wanted to farewell him, but they simply set up road-blocks. His final poroporoaki (farewell) was at Mangahanea, in Ngati Porou territory, although a contingent from Ngati Hine came to claim him also. His old war comrades were his pallbearers, but on his final journey up the hill to Waitetoki he was borne by his grandsons. He was buried beside his mother.
Lieutenant Colonel Frederick BAKER
Frederick Baker was born at Whauwhaukauri, Hokianga, on 19 June 1908, the son of John Francis (Frank) Baker and his wife, Jane Robinson. His father was a bushman but subsequently became a dairy farmer. Baker was of Nga Puhi descent from his mother. He grew to six feet tall and had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. Educated at Rawhia School and then at Rawene District High School, he gained his proficiency examination in standard six and the public service entrance examination in 1924. He joined the Public Works Department at Whangarei on 1 October 1924 as a clerical cadet. From his first appointment he was noted as showing promise. He maintained a schoolboy interest in rugby and played for Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.
In 1928 Baker was transferred to Hamilton, where by the end of 1931 he had completed his Professional Accountants' Examinations. In 1932 he passed the Australian Institute of Secretaries examinations (and became an associate of the institute in 1935). He transferred to the Audit Office in Wellington in January 1933 and assisted the audit of the State Advances Office. On 26 December 1933 at the Presbyterian church in Frankton, he married Edna Mavis Carrie, a dressmaker of Hamilton. There were two children of the marriage. In September 1935 his accounting ability was recognised when he joined the Mortgage Corporation of New Zealand.He became an inspector a year later after it had become the State Advances Corporation of New Zealand. He was later acting accountant in Auckland.
Baker had joined the Territorial Force in 1926, and was a sergeant by 1928 and a lieutenant in June 1931. He served in the mounted rifles in Northland and Waikato, but after moving to Wellington in 1933 he became a reserve officer as there were no mounted rifles units there. He maintained his interest in soldiering through the 1930s, and on 20 May 1939 requested, in view of the uncertain international situation, to transfer to the active list. He was unable to find a posting before the Second World War began, but by November was posted to the 28th (Maori) Battalion as its intelligence officer.
In July 1940, in England, he was promoted to temporary captain and took charge of Headquarters Company. He demonstrated his considerable organising ability in his arrangements for the battalion's embarkation to Egypt on 3 January 1941. In March the battalion was involved in the disastrous campaign to defend Greece against the Germans. Baker commanded the Reinforcement Company, which took heavy casualties. He himself was captured, but managed to escape. After 'finding a seaplane which he couldn't fly, a speed launch which he couldn't start, and a horse he couldn't catch' he was picked up by a Greek truck and taken to an embarkation point.
After rejoining the battalion in Crete he was involved in heavy fighting and took command of its A Company after both senior officers were lost. He was wounded but took charge of other walking wounded and led them ahead of the retreating battalion. He was among the troops taken off Crete by the Royal Navy. In Egypt he was transferred to the 25th Battalion as a company commander. He then rejoined the Maori Battalion as second in command with the rank of major. On 13 July 1942, after Lieutenant Colonel Eruera Love's death on 12 July, Baker was made temporary lieutenant colonel and given command of the battalion.
He was to command the Maori Battalion until 2 November 1942. During this time General Bernard Montgomery took command of the Eighth Army, to which the New Zealand Division belonged, and Brigadier Howard Kippenberger, the commander of the 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade, decided to use the Maori Battalion in a pre-emptive strike against an anticipated German attack. It was the first offensive action Baker commanded. He led a patrol to check the route and identify the objective, the El Mreir depression. After one failed attack, the raid he led on 26 August was highly successful and was considered a model operation. He was later given the task of taking the northern edge of the Munassib depression and linking up with the 21st Battalion in a neighbouring depression. The Maori Battalion initially went beyond its objective into enemy territory and was in danger of being surrounded. After reorganisation by Kippenberger, the battalion reached its position on the right flank of the 21st Battalion and defeated an attack by German tanks.
The planning for the battle of El Alamein was now under way. Baker attended a conference on the proposed campaign and memorised the map details. At battalion headquarters he set up a sand tray, on which the battalion officers fought actions in preparation for the battle. Baker now demonstrated his attention to detail. The Maori Battalion was attached to a British brigade. The planning was careless and the locations of landmarks were inaccurate so that the force would have lined up over a mile south from where it should have been. Baker got his intelligence section to put down the starting-line tapes at the correct place. After considerable discussion he persuaded the other battalion commanders to move north into their correct positions. Half an hourinto the assault Baker was seriously wounded. He was appointed an immediate DSO for his aggressive leadership and was invalided home. The wounds, to his mouth and tongue, were severe and he spent almost a year convalescing and undergoing surgery to restore his ability to speak. In his four months of command he had taken the battalion through a series of highly successful operations.
Baker does not seem to have identified strongly with his Maori ancestry. He wrote about the Maori soldiers he commanded with detachment, even some initial scepticism. Yet he came to admire their fighting ability, and the rank and file of the battalion apparently regarded him as Maori: Ngati Porou officers writing to Sir Apirana Ngata in February 1943 begin by lamenting the loss of the two Maori colonels, Love and Baker. When the history of the battalion was being compiled, Kippenberger raised the question of Baker's Maori ancestry with Sir Bernard Freyberg and classified him among the Maori colonels.
Baker was appointed as director of the Rehabilitation Department in November 1943 by a government anxious to put rehabilitation on a proper footing. Based in Wellington, he was a member of the Rehabilitation Board, which aimed to see ex-servicemen placed in employment or provided with the means of earning a livelihood, and to see them suitably housed. It found housing by preferential allocations of state houses for over 17,000 personnel and housing loans for over 73,000. By 1963 there were 217,179 service personnel recorded with the board, for whom it also provided trade training, educational bursaries, settlement on the land or business loans.
At the height of the Rehabilitation Department's activity between 1946 and 1953 its annual expenditure averaged £19 million and it employed over 1,100 staff. Baker himself was very much at the centre of this activity. He was on all the executive and advisory committees of the board and provided the main co-ordinating link in the rehabilitation structure. He was also appointed to the Organisation for National Development, the Labour government's abortive attempt to provide for planning after the war.
Maori resented the way their soldiers had been treated by rehabilitation policies after the First World War, and the government had stated as early as 1940 that it would treat Maori and Pakeha ex-servicemen equally. It was Baker's responsibility to ensure that this happened. He accepted that a special organisation was needed for Maori and supported the establishment of the Maori Rehabilitation Finance Committee. The Rehabilitation Board used the Native Department, and later the Department of Maori Affairs, as its agent and Baker was insistent that the services to Maori reach the same standard as those for Pakeha ex-servicemen. When he was not satisfied that these standards were being reached he kept up a steady pressure to force changes. By this policy he honoured Ngata's promise that if Maori paid the price of citizenship they would receive its rewards.
In April 1954 the Rehabilitation Department was abolished and made a division of the Department of Internal Affairs. Baker remained its director but was also appointed to the Public Service Commission on 15 September 1954. He died of a heart attack in Wellington on 1 June 1958, survived by his wife and their daughter and son.
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Charles Moihi Te Arawaka BENNETT
Charles Moihi Te Arawaka Bennett was born at Rotorua on 27 July 1913, one of 19 children of Frederick Augustus Bennett of Ngati Whakaue of Te Arawa, and his second wife, Arihia Ngarangioue (Rangioue) Hemana (or Pokiha). Frederick Bennett, an Anglican minister, then superintendent of the Maori Mission at Rotorua, was later the first Anglican Maori bishop of Aotearoa. Arihia Hemana was the daughter of Hemana Pokiha, and a direct descendant of Mokonuiarangi, an important Te Arawa chief in the early nineteenth century, and of Te Pokiha Taranui (Major Fox), a leading pro- government chief of Ngati Pikiao in the New Zealand wars.
At six months of age Charles was given to his grandparents at Maketu to raise, and remained with them until he was 13. His first language was Maori. He received his primary education at Maketu School, then rejoined his parents at Kohupatiki, where his father was stationed. Charles won a scholarship to Te Aute College, where he was a distinguished student, head prefect and footballer. He then attended Canterbury University College, completing his BA in 1936 while training as a teacher at the Christchurch Teachers' Training College. That year he was also a South Island Maori rugby representative. He began teaching at Mangateretere primary school the following year, but in 1938 was recruited as an announcer for the New Zealand Broadcasting Service. He presented his grandparents with their first radio so that they could hear him; his grandmother would often chat back to him when she heard his broadcast voice.
Charles Bennett enlisted as a private at the outbreak of war in 1939 and was soon transferred to the newly formed 28th (Maori) Battalion. He trained as an officer at Trentham Military Camp, embarking overseas in May 1940 as a second lieutenant in B Company. He fought in Greece and Crete as a member of Lieutenant Colonel George Dittmer's staff; in Greece, by now a lieutenant, he led an intelligence unit responsible for reconnaissance. He was often required to issue instructions for battalion movements by radio, spoken in Maori to prevent their interception by the enemy. By November 1941 Bennett had been promoted to captain and was the battalion's quarter-master.
Appreciated for his cool head in times of crisis, by October 1942 Bennett was commanding B Company as a major. Early in November, in fighting near Tel el Aqqakir, his two superiors were wounded and Bennett took charge of the Maori Battalion. His command was later confirmed and he was promoted lieutenant colonel; he was then the youngest battalion commander in the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
In March 1943 at Tebaga Gap, Tunisia, Bennett preceded his attack on Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's lines by sending Captain Arapeta Awatere and C Company, including Lieutenant Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu, to take and hold the adjacent point known to the Maori Battalion as Hikurangi. The following day a hill called Point 209 was taken and 231 Germans were captured. For this action Bennett received the DSO, and he wrote the citation that led to the award of a posthumous VC to Ngarimu.
In April he was given responsibility for capturing Takrouna and Djebel Berda. During this campaign Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi distinguished himself by capturing and holding the Takrouna pinnacle, beating back two counter attacks. For this he received the DCM. However, Bennett stepped over a trip wire on to a wooden box mine and was severely wounded. Invalided home, he spent nearly three years in hospital recovering; his leg injuries were to leave him lame, walking with the aid of a stick and surgical boots for the rest of his life.
After his recovery Charles Bennett worked under Major General Howard Kippenberger on the draft of the Maori Battalion's history with the War History Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs. Remaining at Internal Affairs, in June 1947 he was gazetted as an interpreter. On 10 October, in Wellington, Bennett married Elizabeth May Richardson (née Steward). Elizabeth had two children from her first marriage, but had none with Charles.
In 1949 Bennett was appointed assistant controller of Maori Welfare in the Department of Maori Affairs, and was responsible for an overhaul of the policy of the Maori Welfare Division. He was a member of the Prisons Board (194751), and served on the National Council of Adult Education (194753). In 1952 he completed a diploma in education, and also studied ways in which the School of Social Science at Victoria University College could help to train Maori welfare officers.In 1955 he completed an MA in history; his thesis was entitled 'An account of the Maori Battalion's contribution to the capture of the Mareth line'. That year he returned briefly to El Alamein, Egypt, as the Maori Battalion's representative at the unveiling of the Alamein memorial. In 1955 he took part in crucial Maori education conferences, which would lead to the establishment in 1961 of the Maori Education Foundation.
In 1956 Bennett was appointed controller of the Maori Welfare Division, but shortly after this appointment he was granted two years' leave of absence from the Department of Maori Affairs to further his academic career. He had won a scholarship from the Ngarimu VC and 28th (Maori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund, and attended Oxford University in England to read for a doctorate on the problems of cultural adjustment of the Maori people. This thesis was not completed. Instead, in September 1958 he accepted an invitation from the prime minister, Walter Nash, to become New Zealand high commissioner to the Federation of Malaya (later Malaysia). He took up his position the following January.
Bennett was the first Maori to be appointed a head of mission and New Zealand high commissioner, and initially the secretary of the Department of External Affairs, Alister McIntosh, doubted the wisdom of the cabinet-made appointment, calling it 'extraordinary'; he considered that Asians were far more racist than New Zealanders and would be insulted. However, the only incidence of discrimination to embarrass Bennett was when the Malayan press reported that one of his brothers had been refused a drink in a New Zealand hotel. Charles Bennett was an unqualified success as a diplomat. He was a fine speaker in English as well as Maori, was quiet and courteous, and his time as a battalion commander had transformed him from a reticent young man into a statesman whose presence filled any room he entered. Contemporary Malay officials recognised their distant linguistic kinship with Polynesians, and he was also a popular figure in Kuala Lumpur; he established a strong friendship with the Malayan prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, a golfing companion with whom he also played the occasional weekend game of poker. Bennett was made the recipient of political confidences, and treated almost as the tunku's younger brother. The Malayan government was anxious that he be reappointed for further terms, but the New Zealand government did not agree.
On his return to New Zealand in May 1963, Bennett took up the position of assistant secretary for Maori Affairs. He had applied for the position of under-secretary, but Jack Hunn had been appointed. Although working in Wellington, he established his family in a pleasant house suitable for formal entertaining in Waikanae, continuing a diplomatic lifestyle with receptions and cocktail parties for present and former colleagues. He maintained his contacts in Malaysia, especially with Rahman and his family, and a flow of gifts and cards continued between Malaysia and Waikanae each year.
Charles Bennett retired from the public service early in 1969. He moved from Waikanae to Rotorua that year to contest the Rotorua seat as a New Zealand Labour Party candidate. While increasing support for Labour in the seat he was defeated. He was president of the Labour Party from 1972 to 1976. In 197374 he served on the Rotorua High Schools' Board, and from 1974 to 1976 on the Parole Board. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Canterbury in 1973 and was knighted in 1975.
Bennett moved to Maketu and then Te Puke, until settling in a retirement village at Mount Maunganui, but his long lifetime of service was not over yet. In 1978, with other prominent members of Ngati Pikiao, he laid a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal, asking for the prohibition of the scheme for a pipeline to carry the whole of the treated effluent from Rotorua city's sewerage system into the Kaituna River. Bennett and Ngati Pikiao objected to this use of the river the upper reaches of which flowed through their territory on medical, social and, more importantly, spiritual and cultural grounds. This claim was to occupy Bennett's time for years and he appeared to give evidence. The Waitangi Tribunal found in favour of his claim in 1984 in a ruling that set a significant precedent for future cases involving Maori rights over rivers, and indigenous fishing rights. From 1993 Bennett headed the committee that worked without success to upgrade Manahi's DCM to a VC; he believed that the only obstacle was the military authorities' unwillingness to permit two Maori VCs. In 1995 he and other Maori leaders initiated a new national Maori organisation, which became known as the Maori Congress.
Charles Bennett had carried on the tradition of valuable public service and inspiring leadership established by his father and practised by many of his family. His brothers included Manuhuia, bishop of Aotearoa; John, knighted for work associated with Maori education and the kohanga reo movement; and Henry, a psychiatrist. Charles died in Tauranga on 26 November 1998, survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and her two children, whom he had regarded as his own. During the tangihanga at Tamatekapua, Ohinemutu, attended by Maori and Pakeha national leaders, the New Zealand Defence Forces announced that their emblem was to be changed in his honour from two swords crossed to a sword crossed with a taiaha. Charles Bennett was buried at Kauae cemetery, Ngongotaha.
Lieutenant Colonel George DITTMER, CBE, DSO, MBE, MC, MiD
Born - Auckland 4 June 1893
Enlisted - Maharahara
Trade pre WW2 - A Regular Soldier
Highest Rank Achieved - Brigadier
Service - WW1
Served in the Auckland Regiment 1914-19 as Officer Commanding 1st Entrenching Battalion
Service - WW2
CO 28 Bn Nov 1939 to 7 Feb 1942 Cdr 1st Infantry Brigade Group in New Zealand April 1942 to August 1943 Cdr 1st Division August 1942 to January 1943 Cdr of Fiji Military Forces & Fiji Infantry Brigade Group September 1943 to November 1945 Camp Commandant Papakura Military Camp NZ 1946 Commandant Central Military District NZ 1946 to 1948
Lieutenant Colonel H.G DYER
Lieutenant Colonel M.C FAIRBROTHER
Lieutenant Colonel J.C HENARE, CBE, KBE, LLD
James Clendon (Himi Te Nana) Tau Henare was born at Motatau in the Bay of Islands on 18 November 1911, the youngest of six sons and one of eight children of Hera Paerata and her husband, Taurekareka (Tau) Henare, then farming tribal land. James's father was of Ngati Whatua and Nga Puhi ancestry with membership of many hapu, most notably Ngati Hine. His mother was of Te Rarawa, Ngati Kahu and Te Aupouri. The family's ancestry, with Rahiri as common progenitor, connected them to a number of great northern warrior chiefs, including Kawiti and Hone Heke. James was also the great-grandson of Colonel Robert Wynyard, who led British troops in the northern wars. His ancestral waka were Nga-toki-mata-whao-rua, Mamari, Mamaru, Mahuhu-ki-te-rangi, Mataatua, Tainui, Takitimu, Horouta and Te Arawa, indicating his links to Waikato, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Porou, Taranaki and Te Arawa.
James's first years were spent on his family's marae at Motatau. His father's election as MP for Northern Maori in 1914 changed the family's lifestyle markedly. James's primary school education reflected this, with enrolments at Motatau Native School and Takapuna, Awanui and Thorndon schools. His mother, Hera, died during the 1918 influenza epidemic.
Marked from childhood for special guidance by his elders, Henare was told that, as well as receiving a Pakeha education, he had to be trained in Maori whakapapa and tikanga, in order to fully serve his people in later life. At the age of 14 he was a graduate of the last Ngati Hine whare wananga, at Taumarere, where he was instructed in the sacred elements of Maori life under tohunga Hare Whiro.
The influence of northern and national Maori leaders was strong in the young Henare's life. Nicknamed The Bishop' because of his grave manner, he was closely associated with Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa), a former Northern Maori MP and Department of Health medical officer familiar with the Henare home at Motatau. Occasionally journeying to Wellington with his father, James also spent time at the homes of Maori MPs Sir James Carroll and Sir Maui Pomare.
Henare won a scholarship to Te Aute College in Hawke's Bay, but because of his father's friendship with the Catholic Bishop H. W. Cleary, he was sent to Sacred Heart College in Auckland. After finishing his high school education, he enrolled at Massey Agricultural College, at his father's urging, to study for a diploma of dairy technology. Illness prevented completion of his study, and he was employed by the Hikurangi dairy co-operative company in Northland. In the 1930s Henare worked as a bushman, farm labourer and as secretary for his father, accompanying him in his official duties. When a Maori land development scheme was initiated in Ngati Hine territory, he became its foreman. Land use was a particular interest to both James and his father, who travelled extensively throughout the North Island inspecting development schemes. James was himself engaged in breaking in farmland at Motatau.
On 2 August 1933, at Otiria in the Bay of Islands, Henare married Roiho Keretene (Rose Cherrington) of Nga Puhi, Ngati Whatua, Ngati Hine, Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu; the ceremony was performed by her uncle, Canon Wiremu Cherrington. Distant cousins, the couple had been betrothed as infants at the behest of their grandfathers under the customary practice of tomo, but Henare was not told of this until he was 21. He was a lay reader in the Anglican churchfrom the late 1930s, and was later a member of the Auckland synod for over 20 years.
His father's death in 1940 saw him assume a leadership role. This was further reinforced by Tau Henare's death-bed exhortations to his son to serve in the war. As the mangai (spokesperson) for northern Maori, Tau Henare felt responsible for sending young Maori to their deaths in the First World War. This burden, he believed, could now be relieved by his own son's enlistment. James Henare underwent the ritual of karaka whati, performed to prepare a warrior for battle. It was carried out by an elderly tohunga (a direct descendant of Te Kemara, the great Nga Puhi tohunga, sage and seer) at a gathering of chiefs and elders at Motatau marae. At the completion of the ritual Henare was pronounced fit for battle.
Enrolling as a private in the 28th New Zealand (Maori) Battalion, Henare quickly attained a commission in August 1940, training as an officer at Trentham Military Camp. He left New Zealand with the 5th Reinforcements and served with the Maori Battalion in the North African and Italian campaigns from 1941 to 1945. He was promoted to captain in 1942 and to major in September 1944. From platoon commander, he rose to become company commander of A and later Headquarters companies, then in June 1945 succeeded Arapeta Awatere as commanding officer of the battalion, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Wounded at El Alamein in October 1942, Henare was mentioned in dispatches and in 1946 was made a DSO. The citation noted his fearlessness and courage, singling out his company command at Cassino in February 1944 and inspirational leadership in action in 1945.
The battalion was ready for engagement in the Pacific when Japan surrendered and Henare brought his men home to New Zealand in January 1946. War experience matured Henare: he believed he had acquired greater ability to concentrate and to discern the essentials in any situation, and that he had become more methodical.
Declining an offer from Te Puea Herangi of a Waikato farm and a leadership role amongst her people, he returned to his farm at Motatau. Apart from a period in Auckland as district Maori welfare officer (195156) with responsibility for Auckland city, South Auckland and Tai Tokerau, he was to live at Motatau until the mid 1970s, when he retired to Kawiti, near Orauta.
James Henare's post-war life was marked by a commitment to public service, education and leadership of his people. His father had fought for recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi throughout his life, and James continued this commitment, stating, 'It is the burden of Taitokerau to argue the Treaty'. He had been a member of Te Runanga o te Tiriti o Waitangi, a committee of descendants of the chiefs who signed the treaty, from 1928; at the time of his death he was its only surviving member. He had known the sons of men who had signed the treaty, and believed the signatory chiefs knew what was at stake and saw the document as tapu. It was, he argued, the mana of the treaty that allowed Pakeha to live in New Zealand. Just as his father had a close relationship with Te Puea, so did James with the Maori King, Koroki, and his successor, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu.
Henare was emphatic that New Zealanders had to become truly bicultural before they could become multicultural, and he was critical of certain Pakeha attitudes and condescension. He saw Maori values of personal relationships, relaxed lifestyles, hospitality and creative skills as beneficial to the country as a whole. Although not regarded as an activist, Henare had strong views, which he invariably explained in a reasoned manner. He was not greatly concerned about the heat generated by debates on the treaty as he believed there were reserves of goodwill on both sides. His personal mana was marked by a statesmanlike demeanour, a positive adherence to Maori values and an unfailing courtesy.
Ideologically he was inclined to a liberal outlook rather than a rigid adherence to party politics.After standing unsuccessfully for the New Zealand National Party in Northern Maori in 1946, he was asked by Prime Minister Peter Fraser to stand for the New Zealand Labour Party in 1949; Henare declined as he felt that a successful bid could be seen as opportunism. When the sitting member for Northern Maori, T. P. Paikea, died in 1963, Henare contested the seat for National, but lost by 454 votes to Labour's Matiu Rata.
He had attended the first Young Maori Conference in Auckland in 1939. He succeeded his father as a member of the Waitangi National Trust Board in 1940 and was organising secretary of the Waitangi centennial celebrations that year. He also played a prominent role during the royal tours of 195354 and 1963. Locally, he served on the Motatau Maori committee, the Motatau, Waiomio and Otiria marae trusts, the Kawakawa Tribal Executive and Tai Tokerau district Maori committee. A strong supporter of education, he served on various bodies including an education board advisory committee and a national advisory committee on Maori education.
By advancing the causes of his people, James Henare raised the country's consciousness of Maori perspectives. He was chief national spokesperson of the Wananga Kaumatua Maori and represented Tai Tokerau at a range of hui. He represented New Zealand at the unveiling of the Cassino war memorial in 1956 and at Waitangi Day celebrations at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Hawaii in 1980. In 1984 he was chief orator at the opening of Te Maori exhibition in New York. A member of the Rehabilitation Board, the New Zealand Geographic Board, the Board of Maori Affairs, the Bay of Islands County Council, Tai Tokerau Maori Trust Board and the Bay of Islands Maritime and Historic Park Board, he was also active in the Order of St John, the RSA,Rotary and Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
Henare's mana and patience were illustrated by his talks with activist Eva Rickard and her supporters at Waitangi in 1984, and by his 1988 diplomacy over the renaming of Hongi's Track at Rotoiti. His adherence to his father's desire for service to his people was exemplified by his refusal of an overseas posting as a high commissioner. His dedication was recognised when he was made a CBE in 1966 and a KBE in 1978. He also received Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Medal (1953) and Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), and an honorary LLD from the University of Auckland (1986). In the 1980s he was tipped to become New Zealand's first Maori governor general, an honour which was instead bestowed on Sir Paul Reeves.
James and Rose Henare had six children, and adopted five more. Rose provided over 50 years of support for her husband, and her commitment to Maori initiatives was reflected in her patronage of the kohanga reo movement. James Henare's work has been carried on by his children, nephews and nieces, who have embraced the concepts of service and striving for social equity in law, education and public service. Perhaps his most lasting contribution was his role in helping to found the kohanga reo programme to teach the Maori language to pre-school children. His skilled advocacy and chairmanship of the Wananga Whakatauira's Maori-language group were crucial in establishing the movement.
Sir James Henare died at Kawakawa on 2 April 1989, survived by his wife and children. His tangihanga at Otiria marae, Moerewa, was attended by the Maori Queen, the governor general, the prime minister and former war comrades. He was buried at Motatau with full military honours.
Lieutenant Colonel Kingi Areta KEIHA
Kingi Areta Keiha (usually known as Reta) was born in Gisborne on 24 December 1900, the son of Mikaere (Mikaera) Pare Keiha Turangi and his wife, Maraea (Maria) Hokiwi Ward. His father's tribal affiliations extended from Wairoa to Waiapu but he was principally of Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti. His maternal grandparents were William Ward, a settler, and Taraipine Hokiwi Ward of Te Whanau-a-Rua, of Tokomaru Bay. Reta's upbringing was influenced by his father's sister, Heni Materoa, Lady Carroll, and her husband, the politician Sir James Carroll (Timi Kara).
Reta Keiha was educated in Gisborne, and at Otago Boys' High School from 1916 to 1919, where he took the commercial course and French. He was a rectory prefect and was active in thecadets as a platoon sergeant. A keen sportsman, Reta excelled at swimming and rugby and he was a member of the school's First XV. On his return to Gisborne he played rugby, cricket and golf.
In 1920 Reta joined the legal firm of Nolan and Skeet as a law clerk and later qualified as a Maori interpreter, first grade. At Wairoa, on 5 April 1926, he married Mabel Ida Hinekauia Peakman, the daughter of William Henry Peakman, a sheepfarm manager, and his wife, Taraipine Pango Huka of Ngai Te Ipu, a hapu of Ngati Kahungunu from Whakaki, Wairoa. Educated at Hastings, Mabel was employed as a typist in the Hawke's Bay legal firm of Sainsbury, Logan and Williams.
After the beginning of the Second World War tribal representatives of the district met at Te Poho-o-Rawiri, Gisborne, and supported the formation of a combatant Maori battalion. Keiha was an original member of the 28th New Zealand (Maori) Battalion, which assembled at Palmerston North and was declared on active service on 13 March 1940. He held the rank of second lieutenant in C Company, the personnel of which were drawn from the East Coast tribal areas from Gisborne to the eastern Bay of Plenty. The battalion embarked from Wellington on the Aquitania on 1 May 1940, reached Scotland on 16 June and was based in Kent and in the Aldershot area until 3 January 1941, when it proceeded to the Middle East. Keiha fought in Greece, Crete and then North Africa. For gallantry during the battles at El Alamein, Captain K. A. Keiha, now commanding officer of C Company, was awarded the Military Cross. The action in which he distinguished himself was part of a counter-attack against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's attempt to reach Cairo and Alexandria. The award citation stated he 'prepared for his difficult task well and executed it excellently'.
In November 1942 Keiha was second in command of the battalion with the rank of major. Lieutenant Colonel C. M. Bennett was severely wounded at Takrouna, and as a temporary lieutenant colonel Keiha commanded the battalion from 22 April to 11 September 1943. With his evacuation to hospital, command of the battalion was handed over to Lieutenant Colonel M. C. Fairbrother.
In November 1943 Keiha left for New Zealand on furlough, and was then kept there to arrange for the eventual return of the battalion and to assist in setting up the Maori Rehabilitation Head Officein Wellington. In 1944 he was appointed Maori rehabilitation officer. He was transferred to the Department of Maori Affairs Welfare Division in the early 1950s and appointed Tai Rawhiti district Maori welfare officer at Gisborne.
Reta Keiha was involved in setting up the Titirangi park reserve on Kaiti Hill, which was gifted to the people of Gisborne and which includes the site of the famous Titirangi pa. Although too youngfor service in the First World War, he was elected a trustee and member of Te Hokowhitu-a-Tu Maori Veterans' Association. He was also a member of the Maori Soldiers' Trust Committee. At Wairoa in 1958, returned servicemen of both wars established the 28th New Zealand (Maori) Battalion Association. Reta was elected as president of the Gisborne branch and was a member of the Gisborne RSA executive.
He retired from the public service to manage his farming properties at Hexton, where he lived until his death on 29 May 1961. He was survived by his wife and four children. During the fourth national reunion of the 28th New Zealand (Maori) Battalion Association the ex-servicemen assembled at the Keiha and Carroll families' burial plot by the Makaraka cemetery for the unveiling of a memorial headstone to him by Brigadier George Dittmer, the battalion's first commanding officer.
Lieutenant Colonel Eruera Te Whiti o Rongomai LOVE
Eruera (Edward) Te Whiti o Rongomai Love was born on 18 May 1905 at the Top House, the Lovefamily's homestead in Waikawa Bay in the Marlborough Sounds. He was the second son of seven surviving children of Wi Hapi Pakau Love and his wife, Ripeka Wharawhara Matene. His mother was a great-grand-daughter of Honiana Te Puni-kokopu and was of Ngati Te Whiti and Ngati Tawhirikura (hapu of Te Ati Awa), and also of Ngati Ruanui. Wi Hapi was a great-grandson of the whaler John Agar Love and Mere Rure Te Hikanui, a rangatira of the Taranaki iwi. Eruera Love was a descendant of the whanau of the Parihaka prophet, Te Whiti-o-Rongomai, and was the first Maori to command the 28th New Zealand (Maori) Battalion. He was known to his family,and to the men he commanded, as Tiwi, sometimes Tui.
Eruera's parents moved from their sheep station, Homebush, on Arapawa Island to Petone in 1911, and established the family home, Taumata, at Korokoro. He attended Petone West School and joined the cadets aged 11, moving to the Territorial Force in 1922. By May 1926 he had reached the rank of second lieutenant. He studied law at Victoria University College in 1924 and 1925, and became an interpreter with the Native Land Court.
Following his father's wishes, he researched the whakapapa of the Love family: Wi Hapi felt that a recorded whakapapa would ensure the family's survival in a nation that was increasingly pressuring Maori to change. It was widely expected that Eruera would some day take up the mantle of leadership within his family; he was a natural orator and demonstrated financial acumen. His parents and kaumatua had inculcated in him an unswerving belief that the survival of their iwi and of Maori in general lay in the retention of their culture, language and lands.
Love had always enjoyed sport. He rowed with the Petone Rowing Club and played in the local Maori cricket XI, but it was in rugby that he excelled. He played for the Petone team, then for Wellington. He was a member of the 1925 and 1926 Maori All Black teams, the second of which toured France, Britain, Canada, Australia and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Over one school holidays Love's mother had billeted two young Rarotongan girls, Takau (Margaret) Tinirau Makea Rio and her younger sister. The ship carrying the 1926 Maori All Black team stopped at Rarotonga, allowing Eruera and Takau to meet again. The couple decided to marry, and eventually secured the approval of their respective families. They were married on 17 September 1928, at Pare-o-Tane on the marae of Taputapuatea in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Takau was given the title Rio Rangatira by her father, who also bestowed on Love the title Rangi Makea.
The couple spent the following three years living in Pare-o-Tane, where twin daughters were born in 1930. During this time Eruera learned the traditions and language of his wife's people, and the responsibilities of the Makea Nui title, which would one day be passed on to their eldest child, Rio Rangatira Mokoroa ki Aitu Love. In 1931, after the birth of their third daughter, they returned to New Zealand. They lived at first at Petone, then in Lowry Bay, but by 1934, when their fourth daughter was born, they were living permanently at Taumata.
Love returned to a job with the Native Land Court and continued with the Territorials. He was a driving force behind the fund-raising efforts for the building of Te Tatau-o-te-Po meeting house near Taumata, built principally to house and accommodate relations from Taranaki who came to Wellington to pursue land issues. The opening on 18 October 1933 was a grand occasion, attended by many Te Ati Awa from Taranaki and the South Island and by Pakeha dignitaries. Eruera was administrator and treasurer in its early days.
Takau worked as a nurse, and she and Eruera were kept busy attending functions and activities in the local community and in Wellington. The times most enjoyed by Eruera were those spent with his family cultivating the market gardens the Loves kept in Waiwhetu. Large groups, including all the children, would go to tend the plantings, swim in the stream and play cricket. The food grown was distributed to family members and used as provisions for the large gatherings at Taumata and for the many hui held at Te Tatau-o-te-Po. Over the summer months, Love and his family and Rarotongan relations often stayed in the Marlborough Sounds at the Top House and Homebush.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, Love, already a company commander in the TerritorialForce, was seconded to Army Headquarters to assist in forming the 28th (Maori) Battalion. He then served briefly as commander of D Company before being appointed to the command of the Headquarters Company. Eruera embarked with the battalion on the Aquitania for England in May 1940. By March 1941 the battalion was in Egypt. At this time he was described as 'a big man, not tall, of average height, but otherwise solid and compact'. He was said to roar his orders, and was dubbed 'The Bull' by his men. His voice could be heard a mile away.
The Maori Battalion moved to Greece in late March 1941, and took up defensive positions againstthe invading Germans at Olympus Pass. Forced to withdraw with the rest of the Allied force, the battalion was evacuated to Crete. The New Zealand Division's task on the island included defending Maleme airfield. In a moving letter to his wife, Eruera described his horror at the necessity of killing German paratroopers as they emerged helpless from their planes. On the night of 22 May the battalion was ordered to attack the airfield, which the Germans had captured. During the fighting he became isolated with about 10 men. Early in the morning of 23 May they came under heavy anti-tank and machine-gun fire. They rushed the guns and killed the crews, but Love was wounded in the shoulder. The wound became numb and he was able to carry on through another day of bombing and machine-gun fire. After several more days of fighting they were evacuated to Alexandria.
In Egypt, after a period of training for desert warfare, the Maori Battalion was moved to El Alamein. On 23 November 1941 the battalion was in action again, its task the capture of Sollum, near the strategic Halfaya Pass. Colonel George Dittmer was wounded in this action, at Sollum, and command devolved on Captain Love. During his temporary command, Captain Rangi Royal and B Company achieved a victory at Musaid, capturing 15 enemy vehicles. Sent to Menastir to block supplies from Bardia to the Afrika Korps, the battalion won a significant victory against troops from the 15th Panzer Division on 3 December 1941, forcing a German retreat. The battalion regrouped in the SollumCapuzzo area, and here Love handed over command to the new lieutenant colonel, Humphrey Dyer. Before leaving for hospital (the result of his wound on Crete), Love addressed the battalion, urging them to treat prisoners of war well.
After recovering in Cairo, Love rejoined the battalion in Syria in March 1942 as second in command with the rank of major. In May, Dyer asked to be relieved of his command. He was replaced by Love, now granted the rank of temporary lieutenant colonel. He was the first Maori to command the Maori Battalion, and this met with jubilation in the battalion and in New Zealand. With Field Marshall Erwin Rommel's attack on the Eighth Army in Libya and capture of Tobruk (Tubruq), the New Zealand Division returned to North Africa and on 25 June took up defensive positions at Minqâr Qaim. By evening on 27 June the New Zealand Division had been encircled by the 21st Panzer Division. At 1.45 a.m. the Maori Battalion joined the 19th and 20th battalions in leading the division in a breakout that reached the El Alamein line.
Early in July 1942 the New Zealand Division was ordered to attack Ruweisat Ridge, an important strategic feature dominating the desert near El Alamein. The attack took place on 11 July and developed into a siege. Just after dusk Love and his adjutant drove up to see how his men were faring; his vehicle attracted enemy fire and he was mortally wounded, dying later that night on 12 July; he was only 37. He was buried in Egypt at the El Alamein military cemetery. The loss of Eruera was a tremendous blow to his family, and the ramifications were to be felt for generations. He was survived by his wife, who died in 1947, and by their four children.