Navigation for Te Ahi Kaa

27 Paenga-whawha (April) 2008

E kore ratou e koroua wawe,
They shall grow not old,
Penei i a tatou kua mahue nei;
as we that are left grow old:
E kore hoki ratou e ngoikore,
Age shall not weary them,
Ahakoa peheatia i nga ahuatanga o te wa.
nor the years condemn.
I te hekenga atu o te Ra,
At the going down of the sun,
Tae noa ki te aranga mai i te ata;
and in the morning;
Ka maumahara tonu tatou i a ratou,
We will remember them,
Ka maumahara tonu tatou i a ratou.
We will remember them.

In the shadow of Anzac Day, Te Ahi Kaa this week explores different aspects of the Anzac experience both from twentieth-century history and present-day. The programme is interlaced with period music which was preserved in CD form (Ake, Ake Kia kaha E) by noted Radio New Zealand broadcaster Henare Te Ua a few years before his death in 2007.

One of the enduring symbols for Anzac Day is the poppy, and its fame dates from battle which took place at Passchendaele in Belgium in 1917

Horomona Horo (no Nga Puhi, Taranaki, Ngati Porou) was invited as a practitioner of taonga puoro, to the commemorations which were held in Belgium in 2007, and he talks about the journey.

A song E te Ope Tuatahi was written by Apirana Ngata (no Ngati Porou) to boost Maori enlistment in the first Maori contingent in World War I, The Pioneer Maori Battalion.

Thirty years later, Ngata would prove to be a dominant figure in New Zealand's participation in the Second World War. Te Ahi Kaa profiles an archival recording from Christmas 1943 in which Major Wi Pewhairangi Reedy sends a message to his iwi, and Ngata, hoping that Christmas will be the last the battalion spends overseas.

In 1939, Maori were more than keen to enlist in the Maori Battalion, which was formed from companies whose composition reflected tribal boundaries. A company was largely drawn from Nga Puhi and iwi of Te Tai Tokerau (in Northland), B Company included Mataatua and Te Arawa iwi (from the Bay of Plenty), C Company was mostly Ngati Porou, (from the East Coast of the North Island) and D Company encompassed Tainui and all of Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island).

Between the four companies a friendly rivalry existed, and some scholars feel this accounts for the fearless reputation the battalion established.

Every year an annual reunion is held, with dwindling attendance because of the age of former battalion members, of whom 58 are still alive.

In March this year the C company - or the cowboys as they are fondly remembered - hosted a gathering at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae, in Gisborne. One of the guests was George Ferguson, son of Sir Bernard Ferguson and grandson of Charles Ferguson, and he traces his deep whanau connection to the 28th Maori battalion.

Two Māori soldiers have received the highest military honour, the Victoria Cross. Last year, it was Willie Apiata (no Te whanau a Apanui and Nga Puhi). 60 years previously it was Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa Ngarimu (no Ngati Porou). Te Ahi Kaa features his waiata "E te Hokowhitu' which was first sung on October 6, 1943 at the awards ceremony in Ruatoria.

In the archival segment, Nga Taonga Korero, former Radio New Zealand broadcaster Whai Ngata (no Ngati Porou) provides a tribute to the 28th Maori Battalion.

Since our last Anzac programme in 2007 the following 28th Maori Battalion veterans have died.

A Company:

Tamati Maungarangi Paraone
Wairama Robin Marsh

B Company:

George Rehu

C Company:

Taniora Nepe
Jerry Taingahue

D Company:

Whitu Mitchell
William Bill Smith
Madson Wineera
David Barney Lumsden
John Carroll
Mahini Kupa
Edison Te Kanae Wineera

Te Ahi Kaa pays tribute to their passing, and to their contribution to our history.

CD Details

Ake Ake Kia Kaha E!: The 28th (Maori) Battalion
ACD 206 (2 disc set)