30 Nov 2012

Maori Battalion members to have last get-together

11:27 am on 30 November 2012

Surviving members of the 28th Maori Battalion will meet in Wellington on Saturday for a last official get-together.

Only 25 veterans of the battalion who fought in World War II are still alive and it was felt now is the right time to wind-up the Maori Battalion Association.

Some 3600 men served in the battalion in campaigns across North Africa, Greece, Crete and Italy.

The battalion's losses were the highest of any in the New Zealand Division with 649 deaths, either killed in action or from their wounds.

Veteran Aubrey Balzer said the Maori Battalion name will live on as long as there is one Maori Battalion bloke left alive.

About 11 veterans are expected to be able to attend a remembrance service at the National War Memorial.

Battalion voices

Hours of audio recorded in 1942 is to be made available on a website set up to preserve the name of the battalion.

The audio has been found just as the Battalion Association is being wound up with just 25 surviving members.

Ministry of Culture & Heritage historian Monty Soutar said the audio is from a Christmas programme recorded in 1942 on the Maori Battalion with the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Mr Soutar said the real treasure of the audio is that many of the voices are recorded in their tribal dialects.

The battalion asked for the website to be set up, to allow younger New Zealanders to learn about it.