26 Jun 2012

Sharples pays tribute to private in Maori Battalion

7:30 pm on 26 June 2012

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples has paid tribute to a former private from the Maori Battalion who has died

William Ratahi Pitman, a former president of the Maori Battalion Association, died at the age of 94 on 21 June.

Dr Sharples says Mr Pitman fought in the desert campaigns in North Africa, and in Italy, where the battalion earned a fearsome reputation.

He says Mr Pitman's death is a serious blow to Maori people and to all New Zealanders who cherish his memory.

The last surviving Maori Battalion officer, John Waititi, died on Monday at Tauranga Hospital.

Only 27 veterans of the battalion remain.