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Maori Battalion Voices Heard Again

MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release
6 April 2006

Maori Battalion Voices Heard Again

It could have been called 'the singing Battalion'! When the soldiers of the Maori Battalion sailed for the Second World War, they took with them songs that embodied the love and prayers of those at home. There were hymns, haka, and popular action songs, together with the rousing Maori Battalion march to victory! These were sung with a style that became part of the Battalion's legend.

The National Library of New Zealand, in association with Atoll Ltd, will soon release an historic CD featuring recordings of the Battalion while it was overseas. The two-CD set, Ake, ake, kia kaha e! Songs of the New Zealand 28 (Maori) Battalion, has been produced by well-known broadcaster Hanare te Ua, and will be launched on Good Friday, 14 April, at the Maori Battalion Reunion in Omapere.

The CD features spoken messages, situation reports, concert medleys aimed at tribal areas from which the men were drawn, and a song of remembrance by Pacific Islands members. Also included are rare recordings by the Battalion's 1st Reinforcements during a farewell concert in New Zealand, including a message previously not known to have existed from Princess Te Puea Harangi, whose leadership inspired the Maori people.

These unique recordings were taken 'live' on location in the sands of Egypt, during gunfire in North Africa, and between green hills in Southern Italy by the Middle East Recording Unit of New Zealand's National Broadcasting Service. Often with little or no rehearsal and sometimes under appalling conditions, the recordings captured the raw exuberance and vigour of the performances.

The recordings were preserved for posterity in the Radio New Zealand Sound Archives/Nga Taonga Karero. Here they remain to this day, a treasured, immensely important contribution to our country's history.

'To hear the voices of individuals and the collective as they attempted to comfort themselves, amuse themselves and to motivate themselves, as well as those at home, is truly a blessing,' said Tamati Paraone, President of the 28 Maori Battalion Association.

'It is also a tribute to those who worked so hard to get our men's voices recorded and to bring these recordings home, as well as to those who have now gathered them together in this format for us to enjoy.

'War is a vast landscape and the lives, tragedies, humour, savagery and outstanding bravery of the 28 Maori Battalion can be felt in the voices that you will hear from these recordings taken all those years ago.'

Ake, ake, kia kaha e! is the latest issue in the series He Puiaki Paoru Treasures in Sound, a joint venture by the Alexander Turnbull Library and Atoll Ltd to reissue music of historical significance. The project was generously supported by the New Zealand Army Ngati Tamatauenga and the Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial Museum Waiouru. The CD set will be available in record stores throughout New Zealand from 20 April. It can also be ordered online from Atoll (www.atollcd.com) and from SOUNZ (www.sounz.org.nz).

ENDS

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