I

28th MAori Battalion

 

B COMPANY

Te Arawa

 

The 28th Māori Battalion was formed in 1939 when war broke out in Europe. Sir Apirana Ngata urged the New Zealand government to form an all-Māori unit.

 

So the volunteer Maori Battalion was divided into four companies, which were drawn up on tribal lines. B Company was made up of  men from Rotorua, the Bay of Plenty, Taupō and Thames-Coromandel.

 

The Māori Battalion first engaged in active service during the disastrous Allied defence of Greece and Crete in 1941. May the battalion had been evacuated from Crete. The Māori Battalion lost more than 140 men were killed.

 

The soldiers of the Māori Battalion then fought in crucial battles in North Africa including Minquar Quaim in June 1942 and El Alamein in October 1942.

 

In May 1943, the Māori Battalion was engaged in bitter fighting trying to take Takrouna, a 200-meter high rock peak in the desert of Tunisia.. Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi, fought with distinction in this battle and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) although many believed he deserved the Victoria Cross (VC).

 

The Māori Battalion fought against German forces in Italy for the last two years of the war from September 1943.. The Germans surrendered on 2nd May 1945.

The Māori Battalion returned to Wellington on 23 January 1946. Trains carried the soldiers to their home marae throughout the country.

 

The Māori Battalion ceased to exist. It lives on in legend, having suffered the highest losses in any battalion in the NZ Division.

 

Of the 3578 men who served in the 28 Māori Battalion between 1940 and 1945, 649 were killed in action which was a loss of one man out of every six.

Qualities: identity, diligence

Here’s a tip:

There are lots of books and resources about this topic available at Rotorua Library.

Search their online catalogue for ‘28 Māori Battalion’ to find out what they have to choose from.