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Māori Battalion D Company story to be told

Māori Battalion D Company story to be told

Research to bring to life the story of D Company’s important role in the Second World War gets underway in earnest on Saturday with a launch at the 28 (Māori) Battalion Hall in Palmerston North.

“We are proud to be launching this research project in Palmerston North because this city is where the Māori Battalion was formed in 1940 and the Hall is a constant reminder of the sacrifice Māoridom gave for our country,” says Tata Lawton, chair of Te Kamupene D Rua Tekau Mā Waru Trust, which has oversight of the project.

“D Company was integral to the 28th Battalion and this new piece of work led by historian Harawira Pearless will ensure the story of its contribution is recorded for this generation and for those to come.

“Harawira Pearless has been charged with talking with Alfred (Bunty) Preece, of Moriori descent and living in the Chatham Islands, who is the only surviving D Company veteran.

“He will also delve into the wealth of recorded and documented information available and talk with whānau who have taonga collected over the years including memorabilia, and written and photographic records,” Tata Lawton said.

The 28th (Māori) Battalion consisted of four regionally based rifle companies, representative of the tribes from those regions – A, B, C and D Company.

“While an official history has been written about the 28th (Māori) Battalion, there has always been an overwhelming sense that due to the unique formation and contribution made by the men of the battalion all their voices should be heard,” says Tata Lawton.

“The account is one that needs to be told from their perspectives and values – only then will their story have the mana to hold for future generations.”

In 2014, then Minister of Education Hekia Parata, who also chaired the Ngārimu VC and 28th Battalion Memorial Scholarships board, initiated the company projects to complement Ngā Tama Toa, Monty Soutar’s history of C Company published in 2008. B Company is well advanced with historian, Sir Wira Gardiner, in the final stages of completing its book, which will be published next year. The history of A Company will complete the programme.

“This new work is a huge undertaking, but people in each region in the broader D Company district are taking on the responsibility for collecting taonga and will work with Harawira Pearless on the necessary research,” Tata Lawton said.

D Company’s region is the most geographically spread, with its northernmost boundary the Tainui boundary in south Auckland, its eastern boundary touching the Bay of Plenty, and taking in the central and lower North Island, all of the South Island, Stewart Island, the Chatham Islands, as well as the Pacific.

Te Kamupene D Trust, established in 2016, is working closely with Manatū Taonga – Ministry for Culture and Heritage, supported by the Ngārimu VC and 28th Battalion Memorial Scholarships board and the Ministry of Education, to manage the research and publication of this history.


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