7 Dec 2014

Parade from Te Poho o Rawiri to C Company Whare

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:36 pm on 7 December 2014

The efforts of Second World War soldiers during the invasion of Normandy to locate the last surviving brother of four servicemen, and return him stateside, was the subject of Saving Private Ryan, the 1998 Steven Spielberg film.

Maraea Rakuraku meets with members of the Poutu whānau who just may be the Māori version of that story – with a much happier ending. All five sons returned safely to Aotearoa and went on to have 100s of descendants.

Commemorating the military contribution of Māori and Pākehā from the Tairawhiti region

A number of events spread over three days (November 14-16, 2014) at two different venues in Gisborne (Te Poho o Rawiri marae and the C Company Memorial house) were designed to commemorate and celebrate the contribution of Māori and Pākehā from the Tairawhiti region to various war campaigns since the Anglo Boer War (1899-1902)[1].

Maori Battalion Kowhai Grove

Maraea Rakuraku walked alongside whānau, war veterans of various military campaigns and a contingent of young Māori men representing soldiers of the Pioneer Battalion and hears their experiences of a war which still resonates throughout the Tai Rawhiti community as they make their way from Te Poho o Rawiri pā to a purpose built whare, the C Company Memorial House that stands alongside Te Tairawhiti museum, Gisborne.

While the C Company Memorial House was named specifically in honour of the men of the 28th Māori Battalion (who were drawn from the communities of Tarakeha to Paritu) it holds poignant photographs and memorabilia of all the wars.


One of the more moving aspects of the weekend was when young Māori men wearing First World War replica uniforms marched as part of a parade from Te Poho o Rawiri at Kaiti to the C Company whare in the city. The significance of this was not lost on those who walked in the parade clutching photographs and wearing medals of their fathers and grandfathers who at another time, was those young men. Maraea Rakuraku heard first-hand accounts of those whānau affected by war.


Waiata recorded at Te Whatuwheratanga me te Whakatapunga me te whakawahanga o te putanga Māori o Nga Tama Toa: The Price of Citizenship, Gisborne: Opening of the C Company Memorial House and launch of the Te reo Maori version of Nga Tama Toa: the Price of Citizenship, Gisborne (November, 2014).

[1]  C Company Memorial House Booklet, Nga Tama Toa Trust (2014)