More Māori Battalion Families Receive World War II Service Medals
The whānau of 24 Māori Battalion soldiers who fought in World War II have received their medals at a ceremony in Upper Hutt.
Four senior New Zealand Army Officers presented medals to whānau, which recognise the service and sacrifice of soldiers and officers of the 28 (Maori) Battalion.
Minister of Defence Peeni Henare also attended the ceremony, at Whirinaki Whare Taonga, and presented medals.
Chief of Army, Major General John Boswell, said the ceremony was a chance to recognise those soldiers from 28 (Maori) Battalion who had left their homes to fight for New Zealand.
“This is a significant day to honour the service and sacrifice of those soldiers from 28 (Maori) Battalion all those years ago.
“It’s also an opportunity to recognise the mana they brought to themselves, to their families, the New Zealand Army and New Zealand.”
Colonel Trevor Walker has been responsible for coordinating ceremonies on behalf of the NZ Army and said each ceremony was subtly different.
“At other locations, the Company affiliation was clear. Here in Upper Hutt we had family members from all over the motu.”
New Zealand Government policy after World War II was that former service personnel would have to apply for their medals, which would then be sent to them through the post.
This was to avoid the problems experienced after World War I, when about 10 percent of medals posted to ex-service personnel or their families were returned because of out-of-date address information.
For a variety of reasons, many World War II veterans did not claim their medals.
NZDF Personnel Archives and Medals worked with David Stone, from Te Mata Law, regarding the unclaimed medals of 28 (Maori) Battalion.
“The team from NZDF archives are the unsung heroes of this kaupapa. They reviewed thousands of files to determine who had received medals and who were yet to claim,” Colonel Walker said.
Similar ceremonies have been held in Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Burnham and Rotorua. Another event will be held at Waitangi in 2023.
The families of the men who never claimed their medals are entitled to apply for them through the New Zealand Defence Force Personnel Archives and Medals Office.