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Help required to complete D Company history

The Kamupene D Rua Tekau Mā Waru (D Company 28th Māori Battalion) Trust and Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage are intensifying efforts to complete the D Company history book and need help.

“The Māori Battalion company histories will provide highly valuable historical and educational information to both Māori and the wider New Zealand public,” says Neill Atkinson, Chief Historian Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

“Together these histories will acknowledge the Battalion’s outstanding service to Māoridom and the nation.

“In 2017 a researcher was appointed to start work the D Company project, but his term has ended. Our renewed drive to collect all the information needed to complete the D Company history is being led by Kamupene D Rua Tekau Mā Waru trust chair, Tata Lawton, and one of the trustees, Professor Roger Maaka,” Neill Atkinson said.

Tata Lawton says getting whānau on board is vital to speeding up the work required, as they have the stories, letters, diaries and photographs which will reveal and enliven the D Company history.

“Our greatest challenge will be to collect as many individual photographs of the men who served in D Company as is possible,” Tata Lawton said.

“Fortunately, we already have the first 100 or so as these were identified by Major Rangi Logan in the mid-1990s. Major Logan commanded D Company during the war.

“We have a huge challenge ahead documenting our history because the company drew its men from the largest land area, including south Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Whanganui, Wairoa, Hastings, Wairarapa, Manawatū, Wellington and the whole South Island.

“Some Pacific Island people who were living in New Zealand during the war also served in D Company,” Tata Lawton said.

Dr Monty Soutar, Manatū Taonga’s Senior Māori Historian and author of the C Company history Nga Tama Toa, will work closely with the D Company History Trust to progress the research.

“This book will not only cover D Company’s major battles and engagements during the Second World War, but also the home front effort,” says Monty Soutar. “And it will discuss the impact of the loss of loved ones on their communities.

“The D Company history, alongside the histories of the other companies, is an opportunity to re-connect the Māori diaspora to what it is to be Māori.

“And to continue the legacy of leadership transferred down the generations through the examples of men like Lieutenant-Colonel Tiwi Love, Major Rangi Logan, Major Jim Matehaere and Captain Paul Te Punga.

“It also gives us as way to recognise the Battalion’s Pākehā leaders – men like Major Humphrey Dyer and Lieutenant ‘Ace’ Woods,” Monty Soutar said.

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