Māori contribution to First World War revealed in new book
The important and poignant story of the Māori contribution to the First World War is told for the first time in the book Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Maori in the First World War, Neill Atkinson Chief Historian Manatū Taonga said today.
“Māori made a significant
contribution to the First World War; from a population of
50,000, more than 2200 Māori served and some 330 died. All
this and more is outlined in this new book,” Neill
“These men served in the Middle East, Malta, Gallipoli, France, Belgium and England between 1914 and 1919, mainly in the Maori Contingent and its successors, the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion and the New Zealand Maori (Pioneer) Battalion.
“Written by Dr Monty Soutar, Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Maori in the First World War outlines pre-war New Zealand and then follows the soldiers overseas giving us insight into training, trench warfare and the role of the pioneer in and out of the frontline.
“The soldiers’ homecoming, repatriation and
life after the war are considered in the final
“Whitiki! also addresses the varied Māori response to the call for volunteers. Some iwi refused to encourage their sons to enlist, even after conscription was extended to their districts in 1917.
“With land confiscations and the treatment meted out to Māori at places like Parihaka, Rangiaowhia and Ōrakau still raw in the minds of their elders, many young men from these areas could not be moved to serve.
“This book tells all of their stories in detail for the first time.
“Whitiki! also covers the experiences of
the Battalion’s Pasifika volunteers – mostly Cook
Islanders, Niueans, and a handful of Tongans, Fijians,
Samoans and Gilbert and Ellice Islanders (now Kiribati and
“Whitiki! is the tenth book to be published in a series of histories of New Zealand and the First World War produced jointly by Manatū Taonga, Massey University and the New Zealand Defence Force, which explore the impact of the war on New Zealand society during and after the war.
“With nearly 600 pages and close to 1000 illustrations Whitiki! is the largest book in the series and one of the last to be completed.
“Whitiki! will be appreciated both by the descendants of the soldiers whose names and faces appear on its pages as well as New Zealanders wanting to learn more about the Māori and Pasifika contribution the First World War.
“My thanks to Dr Monty Soutar, a senior historian
with us at Manatū Taonga, who has led the work on this
substantial book and to the team who have supported its
publication,” Neill Atkinson said.