recognising Haane Manahi
On the night of the 19 April 1943, during the Battle of Takrouna in Tunisia, Lance Sergeant Hanne Manahi was in command of a section of soldiers from his Maori Battalion platoon. They were trying to capture a rocky outcrop but were under fire from Italian and German soldiers. They fought throughout the night but by the morning, the platoon was losing its strength and making no progress..
Lance Sergeant Manahi decided that if they were to reach their goal, he must take a small band of his men up the very steep western side of the rock-face. It was one hundred and fifty metres of cliff-face and fifty metres of cliff face. The last fifty metre slope was so steep it was almost vertical but the men kept going even though they were under constant fire.
This act of incredible courage and strength was described by Lieutenant General, Sir Brian Horrocks, 13 Corps Commander, as being one of the bravest things he had ever seen during the war. Lance Sergeant Manahi’s bravery so impressed his generals that they recommended he be awarded the Victoria Cross Medal – the highest military award for courage in battle.
However, for some reason, Lance Sergeant Manahi was not awarded the Victoria Cross. Instead he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct medal which confused and Lance Sergeant Manahi died many years later in 1986 without being awarded the Victoria Cross that many thought he deserved.
Lance Sergeant Manahi died many years later without ever having received the Victoria Cross many thought he deserved. The Returned Service Association and the New Zealand government petitioned Queen Elizabeth to have the medal awarded posthumously, meaning after he had died. The Queen because the Queen’s father, King George Vl, had ruled in 1949 that no further awards from the Second World War would be made. However, she did agree to honour him in some way.
In 2007, an historic ceremony was held at Te Papaiōuru Marae, Ōhinemutu where the Duke of York presented a letter from the Queen acknowledging Lance Sergeant Manahi’s bravery. The Te Arawa Sword for Gallantry, for Haane Manahi ceremonial sword, a symbolic altar cloth for St Faith's and a special patu were presented in honour of Haane Manahi.
In this way, the humble and heroic Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi was finally rrecognised properly for his courageous actions on that night in 1943 on the other side of the world, in a country called Tunisia.
Qualities: diligence, humility, identity
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More to watch:
See some of the ceremony held at Te Papaiouru Marae to honour Haane Manahi in 2007:
Te Arawa Sword of Gallantry for Haane Manahi being presented to Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short:
See a special 2012 Waka Huia documentary about Haane Manahi:
More to read:
Victoria Cross at Takrouna: The Haane Manahi Story by Paul Moon
More to listen to:
This entry is related to these other entries:
28 Māori Battalion; The Spirit of Te Makawe