The Maoris in the Great War
Chapter II. — Recruiting and Organisation of the Maori Contingent
Recruiting and Organisation of the Maori Contingent.
The first proposal to send a Maori force to the War was made in the beginning of August, 1914. The news of the proclamation of war between Britain and her Allies and Germany aroused the kaingas from the far North to the Wai-Pounamu, and telegrams to the Government offering Maori assistance to the Empire came pouring in from all parts of the country. The Arawa of Rotorua and the Ngati-Kahungunu of Te Wairoa and other parts of Hawke's Bay were the first to volunteer, followed quickly by Ngati-Porou, by the tribes around Gisborne and by Whanganui and Ngati-Apa. The first reply of the authorities was to the purport that the rule of the Imperial Government had been that no native race should be used in hostilities between European races. It was soon announced in the cablegrams, however, that Indian troops were being sent to France and also that native soldiers from Africa were to assist the French. On learning of this the Maori tribes, through their members of Parliament, renewed their request to be permitted to serve the King in the field of battle. The Prime Minister replied, expressing his great pleasure and gratitude at the offers of the loyal Maoris and stating that he would place the proposal before the Imperial Government. On September 16th he announced that His Majesty's Government had accepted the Maoris' aid and had agreed that a Native Contingent of 200 men should be sent to Egypt. A little later this suggestion was altered. The War Office proposed that there should be two Maori forces, each of 250, one to go to Egypt and the other to Samoa.
The principle of Maori participation in the War having thus been established, to the great satisfaction and pride of the people, the next step was the selection of the war-parties. On the suggestion of the Hon. the Minister for Defence, the Maori members of Parliament set about the work of raising the necessary men. On September 18th a meeting of members was held in the room of the Hon. Sir Maui Pomare (then Dr. page 10 Pomare; his knighthood was conferred upon him in recognition of his patriotic services in the organisation of the Maori forces, and his work for the welfare of the race). A recruiting Committee was formed, consisting of the Hon. Sir James Carroll, Sir Maui Pomare (Western Maori), the Hon. A. T. Ngata (Eastern Maori), Dr. Peter H. Buck, whose Maori name is Te Rangihiroa (Northern Maori), and Mr Taare Parata (Southern Maori). This committee at once began its task of allotting the proportions of the Contingent of 500 thus: Tai Tokerau (Northern District) 100 men; Tai Hauauru (Western Maori) 180; Tai-Rawhiti (East Coast) 180, and the Wai-Pounamu (“Waters of Greenstone”—the South Island) 40. Thenceforth the Maori Committee kept steadily at work throughout the Great War. Two of the original members were replaced by others soon after the war began. Dr. Buck went on active service, and his place as member for the Northern Maori District was taken by Mr Tau Henare; and Mr. Parata died, to the great regret of his colleagues, and was succeeded by Mr. Uru.
The Committee issued through the “Kahiti”—the Maori Gazette—a notice to all the tribes, calling for volunteers between the ages of 21 and 40 years willing to serve the King for the duration of the war. “E te iwi, whitiki! Whiti, whiti e!” the appeal of the “Komiti Whakahaere” concluded. It was the old war-cry of the chiefs when danger threatened: “O tribe, gird up your loins! Rise up, rise up!” And the Maori people rose eagerly at the challenge and appeal. Volunteers came from the remote gumlands of North Auckland, from the farms and forests of the Kaipara, from the shores of the Bay of Islands and the Hauraki, the King Country and Bay of Plenty coast, the lakeside villages of the Arawa, the sheep farms and rich agricultural country of mis-named Poverty Bay and Hawke's Bay; from the shores of the great central Lake Taupo, the terraced banks of the rushing Whanganui and the plains of Manawatu and Wairarapa; then across Cook Strait the call was answered from the little townships and farms of the Ngai-Tahu. From Parengarenga, the most northerly harbour in the Dominion, down to the old whaling and sealing stations on the shore of Foveaux Strait, came athletic brown page 11 lads, intensely elated at the prospect of fighting shoulder to shoulder with their white fellow-New Zealanders against the common enemy
Those Pakeha New Zealanders who knew the Maori well were delighted to think that he was being given an opportunity to display his fighting qualities after many years of peace. One, an old missionary in Auckland, said: “If they are true sons of their fathers, they will be brave and gallant fighters, they will show courage and resource in battle, and they will treat wounded enemies and women and children with kindness and courtesy. I would not be afraid to trust the Maori in war. He will be truly British.” A veteran of the wars of half a century previously, said: “I could not wish for better fighters and comrades than the Maoris with whom I fought. When they trusted the white man they could be relied on absolutely. As scouts, of course, there was nothing to touch them. The present generation of Maoris will probably make splendid soldiers.” Another old New Zealand colonist, referring to the military traditions of the Maoris, said: “These traditions, stories of great and glorious deeds of warfare, are the best guarantee we have that the Maori, even under the strange and disturbing conditions of modern warfare, will be a soldier of whom the Empire may be proud. All Maoris are intensely loyal to their race and intensely jealous of its reputation, and now that the Maori race is merged in the British Empire, that loyalty and that jealousy are transferred to Britain. The proposal is to send the natives to Egypt to do duty there, and I know that these men will do their duty thoroughly; but if they are sent to the fighting line there will not be a man of them who will shrink from laying down his life for the Empire of which he is a part. I know that these men will welcome any chance to bring new glory to the Maori race, even at the sacrifice of their own lives.”
The Defence Department and the Maori Committee jointly made arrangements for the medical examination of volunteers and their enrolment for service, and the first camp was established in the middle of October, 1914, on the grounds of the racecourse at Avondale, the olden Whau, a few miles west of Auckland city. The first Maori detachments to enter camp page 12 were small parties from Mangonui, North Auckland, and from the Auckland district. On October 19th a party of 50 young men arrived from the South Island and 36 from the Hauraki and Ngati-Maniapoto tribe. On the following day 92 recruits came in from the West Coast, representing the tribes of Whanganui, Ngati-Apa, Ngati-Raukawa and Ngati-Toa. These young soldiers were quickly followed by ninety composed of Te Arawa, of the Lakes District, Maketu and Matata, Ngai-Awa from Whakatane, Whakatohea from Opotiki, and the Whanau-a-Apanui and kindred tribes as far as Tikirau (East Cape). The famous fighting Ngati-Porou followed; these young men were from the Tai-Rawhiti villages from the East Cape southward toward Gisborne. The Ngati-Kahungunu from Hawke's Bay and some more Ngapuhi from Kaikohe and other Northern districts completed the 500 men in training under canvas at Avondale.
These young Maoris, the pick of the race, gathered from all corners of the Dominion, entered with the utmost eagerness and zest into their soldierly duties under pakeha instructors. All who visited the camp were pleased with the cheerful temper of the men, their great alacrity at all tasks (“fatigue it was their pride,” to quote Kipling's sergeant in “The Men Who Fought at Minden”), and the quickness and intelligence they brought to bear on the work in hand. Their physique was the theme of praise by inspecting military officers. On parade they attracted great admiration for their stature, their muscular development and their alertness and soldierly bearing. On October 24th, Sir James Allen, Minister for Defence, inspected the Opé Maori, and addressing the recruits expressed his great pleasure at the Maori being the first Native race to offer for service abroad, with the exception, of course of the men of India, who were soldiers already. He praised their quickness and pride in soldierly training and said he was sure they would acquit themselves as creditably as their pakeha fellow-soldiers. The Minister made mention, too, of the number of college-bred young Maoris in the Opé, boys from Te Aute, Waerenga-a-Hika Mission School, St. Stephen's (Parnell, Auckland), Hikurangi (Wairarapa), Otaki, and the Three Kings Wesleyan College, Auckland.page break
Hon. Sir Maui Pomare, C.M.G., M.P., M.D.
Member of the Executive Council, Minister for the Cook and other Islands; Chairman of the Maori Recruiting Board and Maori Regimental Committee.
Hon. Sir James Carroll, M.L.C. (Maori War Medal)
Member of the Maori Recruiting Board and Maori Regimental Committee. (Died at Auckland, October 18th, 1926.)
The proposal to send the Maoris away in two companies, one to Samoa and one to Egypt, was debated among the tribes, and was strongly opposed by the principal men. The feeling gathered weight that it would not be judicious to divide the contingent, and the unanimous opinion was soon expressed that the Maori should be sent to Egypt as being near the seat of war. The men naturally were anxious to reach the actual battlefield and were not enthusiastic about garrison duty. Sir Maui Pomare and his committee conveyed to the Prime Minister a general request that the whole of the force should be sent to Egypt, and this request was sent on by the Government to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies. On November 7th a cablegram from London to the Governor stated that the wishes of the Maoris and the New Zealand Government had been acceded to, and that all the Maoris would be despatched to Egypt.
The Contingent was now divided into two companies, A and B, composed as follows:—
- Platoon (Ropu) 1—Men from the North Auckland district, extending from Tamaki (Auckland isthmus) to the Rerenga-Wairua (Spirits' Leap, in the extreme North).
- Platoon 2—Tamaki to Pari-ninihi (the White Cliffs, North Taranaki), including Ngati-Maniapoto, also the Hauraki and Tauranga tribes and Ngati-Tuwharetoa of Taupo. (These were the tribes of Tainui stock).
- Platoon 3—West Coast: Waitotara, Whanganui and inland tribes from Taihape to Manawatu.
- Platoon 4—Horowhenua to Wellington, also the South Island.
The organisation of the Contingent having been completed, training was carried on steadily in infantry work under Captain Peacock and Permanent Force instructors. Squad, platoon and company drill, route marching, musketry, bayonet practice, assault practice, trench digging, night attacks and all other details of instruction kept the Contingent busy until its departure for the Front.
Several veteran officers with Maori War services were anxious to lead the Contingent, and it was at first proposed that Colonel T. W. Porter, C.B., who had a distinguished record in the New Zealand and South African campaigns, should go in command. No better choice could have been made. Colonel Porter had served continuously in the Maori Wars from 1865 to 1871 as an officer of native forces; he knew the Maori temperament as few pakehas did, and the men would have placed complete confidence in such an experienced and sympathetic leader. However, it was considered that he was too old for further active service. Another veteran extremely anxious to serve was Captain Gilbert Mair, N.Z.C., perhaps the most dashing and enterprising of all our New Zealand-born and bred soldiers. He had won his New Zealand Cross by a most gallant feat of arms, his defeat of Te Kooti near Rotorua in 1870. Mair was the hero of the Arawa; from 1866 to 1872 he had led them on active service. Even in his old age he was the most active of men; at seventy-eight years of age he made a long horseback journey through the rough Urewera country over the old fighting trails, with the present writer. Yet another volunteer was Major J. T. Large, who had served with the Urewera campaigns. Rejected in New Zealand in 1914, he went to Australia and tried unsuccessfully to join the forces there; and by way of demonstrating his fitness for active service, in spite of his age, he undertook a long walking tour through the North of Auckland. But it was the day of the young man; the old warriors were reminded that their place lay in the homeland; and they loyally accepted the position and exerted themselves in recruiting and in lending a helping hand to the fortunate ones chosen for the battlefield of Tu. Colonel Porter, in the latter part of the war, was page 15 engaged by the Government to carry out special work, as an Inspector of Recruiting Services, and he also gave useful gratuitous service as Commandant of the New Zealand National Reserve.
Early on February 10th, 1915, the Contingent packed up and bade farewell to the camp and set out on the long trail to the Old World. The Hokowhitu a Tu, “The Seventy Twice-told Warriors of the War God,” the Maori chiefs christened the force, in allusion to the favourite number of a war-party, 140, for a desperate attack in the days of old. Marching through Auckland city, the men went aboard the troop-steamer “Warrimoo,” which sailed for Wellington. On Saturday, February 13th, the Maoris landed at Wellington and with a pakeha contingent paraded in Newtown Park for final review and farewell. An official account of that memorable good-bye parade, published in Maori in the Government “Kahiti,” described the march and the park ceremonials thus: “The Pakeha people who beheld the march of that 500 will never forget the sight, the spectacle of that splendid war-party, those tall strong men, their fine marching—it was equal to the drill and appearance of the best soldiers in the world. There were some who said that the Maori soldiers were the finest body ever seen on parade in Newtown Park. There they bade farewell to their assembled relatives; they displayed their skill in the accomplishments of their ancestors—the haka, the tutu-ngarahu (war-dance), canoe-paddling songs and other chants; excellent their leaping in the war-dance, their drill of hands in unison, their waiata-chanting.”
There were speeches of exhortation and affection from the Maori chiefs, counsel to uphold the warrior fame of the Maori and touching songs of farewell from the native assemblage. The Maori was about to take that long, long, sea-road to the faraway land of his birth in the mists of time; he was to see, perhaps, the veritable shores of Hawaiki-nui, of Hawaiki-roa, of Hawaiki-pa-mamao, the shadowy land of legend whence his fathers came, sailing ever eastward to “the gateways of the day.” Somewhere there on the south coast of Asia, the Arabian littoral, his long-ago ancestors had sojourned, from a score of countries perhaps had drawn some of their racial page 16 traits; maybe it was from the sea-going Arabs of the Red Sea coasts that they derived their skill and enterprise as sailors. Now the Opé Hokowhitu a Tu was retracing the way to the first of many Hawaikis; it was a crusading army, upholding the name and fame of the Maori to the whole world. It might well be that those splendid young men would return no more. They paraded proudly before their fellow-countrymen, Maori and Pakeha. There was the spirit of the ancient Roman in their last march-past: “Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant!” They marched away to the sound of high and pathetic farewells: “Haere, haere! Haere, e hoki! Haere ki te ahi e ka mai ra i Oropi! E tama ma, kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawa-nui! Haere ra!”
Early on the morning of February 14th, the Maori troopship, which was commanded by Captain Edwin, quietly moved out from her Wellington berth and steamed away for Suez via her only Australian port of call, Albany. As the Indian Ocean was reported free of danger since the destruction of the German cruiser “Emden,” by H.M.A.S. “Sydney” at Cocos Island (November, 1914), there was no warship escort for the “Warrimoo” and her consorts the pakeha troopships “Maunganui,” “Tahiti” and “Aparima.” (The last named ship was afterwards sunk in the English Channel.) Captain Edwin took his ship close in to Cocos and gave the Maoris a good view of the battered enemy raider lying on the reef. There was one death on board during the voyage across the Indian Ocean, Corporal Mikaera Te Moananui
When passing through the Red Sea the Maoris heard the distant noise of a bombardment. It was a British cruiser shelling a Turkish position on the coast. On the voyage the musical talent in the Contingent was assembled and a band was formed under the direction of Captain Pirimi Tahiwi and Lieut. Stainton.
The Maoris disembarked at Suez and entrained for Cairo, where they were loudly welcomed by the pakeha New Zealanders, and marched out to Zeitoun Camp. A week there, and then came orders for Malta, whither the transport Runic carried the Maoris, to begin garrison duty at Ghain Tuffiah Camp (about 16 miles from Valetta).page break
Hon. A. T. Ngata, M.A., LL.B.
Member of Parliament for Eastern Maori District, and Member of Maori Regimental Committee.
Mr. Tau Henare, M.P. for Northern Maori District.
Member of the Maori Recruiting Board and Regimental Committee.
Major Peacock, who had trained the Contingent in the Avondale camp, had been given command of the force for the voyage and overseas service, but, to his own great grief and to the deep regret of his men, he was taken seriously ill on the passage and had to be landed in West Australia, and invalided home. The Maoris were very sorrowful over this misfortune, for Major Peacock was not only an excellent instructor and capable leader but he had a real liking for the Maori people, and his sympathetic attitude heartened them greatly. His place was taken by Major Herbert, who was given the command of the Contingent on arrival in Egypt and retained it at Gallipoli until after the battle of Sari Bair (August, 1915), when he was appointed to the command of a British battalion. Major Peacock, on resuming duty in New Zealand, was placed in command of the training camp established at Narrow Neck, overlooking Rangitoto Channel, Auckland. Here the work of training Maori and South Sea Islands recruits was carried on after the evacuation of the Avondale camp. His death when in charge of the Paeroa Defence District in 1924 was a matter of grief to all his old comrades and indeed to all who had known him, whether in his military or his private capacity.
Recruiting the Reinforcements.
As time went on, the heavy wastage of the battlefields and the sickness, due to the conditions under which the War was waged, necessitated considerable reinforcements to keep the Contingent, or, as it became, the Pioneer Battalion, up to field strength. When the Battalion was in France in 1917, two returned soldiers, Lieuts. Te Awarau and Puke Cross, were engaged as recruiting officers in the North Island, going from tribe to tribe and addressing the people. A notable unofficial recruiting agent was Ruatapu-nui, the Urewera long-haired prophet aforetime, who, after getting the worst of a tussle with the police at Maunga-pohatu—a fatal affray in which one of his sons was shot dead—and serving a term of imprisonment, became a staunch supporter of the King's authority, and brought in towards the end of the war some fifty volunteers, his young men from Ruatoki and other settlements. The page 18 Arawa were particularly enthusiastic and self-sacrificing supporters of the British cause; even the elderly men were anxious to enlist. On August 9th, 1915, Hone Te Awe-Kotuku wrote to Sir Maui Pomare from Te Ngae, Rotorua: “We, the parents of those who went to Egypt, are sorry that we were left behind. We now hear that those up to 55 years are being listed. That age of life includes most of us, and the whole of the Arawa are agreed.” To this the reply was that only men between the ages of 20 and 40 years were being enlisted.
There was one important exception to the general eagerness of the tribes for active service abroad. This was Waikato, embracing most of the people under the mana of Rata Mahuta, the great-grandson of the famous Potatau te Wherowhero, the first Maori King. The Maori Kingdom, dating back to the Fifties of last century, was now but a shadow of its olden greatness, but the memory of the Waikato war, when ten thousand British and Colonial troops were required to subjugate the Kingites, was ever before Waikato, for in that war they lost the greater part of their lands, confiscated by the Crown. “Give us back Waikato,” had been their cry for fifty years. They neither forgot nor forgave that act of wholesale confiscation; and their perpetual grievance against the Government was made their excuse for declining to volunteer for the great war abroad. The Waikato, with their numerous clans, Ngati-Mahuta, Ngati-Naho, Ngati-te-ata, Ngati-Tipa, Ngati-Tahinga and others, and the Ngati-Haua—the tribe of that fine patriot of former days, Wiremu Tamehana Tarapipipi, the Maori Kingmaker—could have furnished a company of first-rate fighting men, athletic and enterprising. But the influence of their elders, the old diehards, who still regarded the Potatau family as their royal line, was sufficiently strong to prevent most of the young men from volunteering for the Opé Maori. They put up a passive resistance, declaring that, while they were willing to defend New Zealand from attack, they did not wish to serve outside the country.
The Maori Recruiting Committee, jointly with the Defence Department, made strenuous efforts to bring Waikato and allied tribes into line with the rest of the nation. Sir James Allen, Minister for Defence, Sir Maui Pomare, and several page 19 high chiefs of the tribe visited Waikato, argued with Rata, his “Premier” and chief adviser Tupu Taingakawa (the great Wiremu Tamehana's son), and appealed to the people to make common cause with their fellow-countrymen against the nation's foes. One of the most eloquent advocates of recruiting was Te Heuheu Tukino, M.L.C., the paramount chief of Ngati-Tuwharetoa, of the Taupo country. Te Heuheu was loyal to his race and at the same time a thorough-going advocate of Maori participation in the great struggle overseas for the liberty of the world. The principal burden of persuading Waikato to enlist lay on the Hon. Sir Maui Pomare. In one of his speeches at a meeting with Waikato under Rata, at Waahi village, Sir Maui addressed his countrymen and constituents as follows:—
“Waikato, I return your greetings, according to the customs of our race. I have listened with an attentive ear to your words—the reasons why you are resisting the law. It is bad. You are not only grasping shadows, but you are kicking against the pricks. I will show you presently that you are untrue to the traditions and unfaithful to the sacred words of your great and illustrious dead.
“You say conscription is against the Treaty of Waitangi. I ask you to consider Clause Three of that Treaty. What does it say?—‘In consideration thereof (that is, in the Maori version, agreeing to the Government of the Queen) Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand her Royal protection, and imparts to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.’ Now, our ancestors signed that treaty. They agreed to the Government of the Queen. I ask you this question,—What is a Government for? Is it not for the purpose of making laws? And what are laws for? Is it not for the protection of the members of the State? And are not the laws made for us to obey? Then, in order to keep the Treaty inviolate, we will have to keep the laws made by the Government that our ancestors accepted.
“The British monarch extended us the Royal protection. Has not that bargain been kept? Have we not been protected from that time to this? ‘And imparts to them all the rights and privileges of British subjects.’ Is it not our privilege and page 20 our right to fight for King and country? I want to point out to you that no right and no privilege can exist without the corresponding responsibility. Now do you see how the Treaty favours conscription, and how you have erred in regard to its provisions?
“Now in regard to Potatau. Do you recollect his coronation oath? When my predecessors made him King of the Maori tribes, do you remember what they said, ‘Potatau, we make you King. Henceforth you and Queen Victoria shall be united—the law shall be the carpet [whariki] for your feet and the religion of Christ your joint religion for ever.’ And what did Potatau say? ‘Yes, for ever. There is but one eye to the needle, through which the white, the black, and the red threads must pass.’ You tell me to-day that Potatau's needle must have more than one eye; for you contend that there should be a different law for the Maoris, that conscription should be a different law for the Maoris, that conscription should not apply to them. ‘Beware of Kura's urn, lest the dust from the feet of your ancestors arise and smother you.’
“It is true that Tawhiao (the second Maori King) spoke the words, which you have quoted, regarding the banishing of war from New Zealand, but were not these words uttered by him at a peace conference with the pakeha? Has not war been banished from these shores? Is there fighting between Pakeha and Maori to-day? ‘I have sheathed the sword.’ Mark, he did not turn the sword into a ploughshare, neither did he destroy it, but he sheathed the sword. Why? In order to protect the sword from rust and from being blunted, so that whenever the time should arise, when it should again be wanted, it would be found still keen and bright.
“Tawhiao returned all fighting across the sea. Where is the fighting now? Is it not across the sea? Therefore, in order to keep his words sacred, in order to keep the fighting across the seas, you must enlist, you must see that your sons fight across the waters, and not allow the foe to fight here. ‘Beware and do not shift the landmarks of your ancestors, lest the gods curse you.’“Now I come to your fourth reason—the shedding of blood is against your religion. I ask, are you Christians? Did not Christ say, I come not to bring peace but a sword? Did he page breakpage break
Mr. Henare Whakatau Uru, M.P. for Southern Maori District.
Member of the Maori Regimental Committee.page 21 not say to Peter to catch a fish, and when the fish was gutted was not a coin with Caesar's superscription found on it? And did not the Founder of the Faith say, ‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things which are God's.’ Now, Caesar is demanding from you the things which are his. Are you Christians?
“Which of you, having a child who is being tortured to death by another, will hand him a Bible and say, brother, love your neighbour as yourself. It is our Christian duty to root out all evil, and the greatest evil of the age is the German evil.
“You say the Pakeha must right the wrongs which he inflicted by the confiscation of our lands during the Maori war. I will not go into the merits or otherwise of your claim, because I know some of the confiscated lands were paid for by the ‘Takoha’ monies. That question involves a legal wrangle, which I hold you still have the option of bringing before a legal tribunal. That is a family quarrel. Put aside the petty quarrels of the family, and take hold of the battles of the Nation.”
However, Waikato were obdurate, and as the other tribes, especially Te Arawa, Ngati-Porou and Ngapuhi, and also the Defence Department, considered that some degree of compulsion should be applied, the conscription principle embodied in the Military Service Act, 1916, was extended to the Maori race, by “Gazette” notice on June 26th, 1917. This Act provided for the compulsory calling up of suitable recruits for the Expeditionary Force. Waikato as a tribe held out to the end, on principle—though the refusal of the old people to sanction volunteering greatly chafed many of the young men—and it was deemed necessary to assert the law, in fairness to the other tribes, by compulsorily taking several young men to camp at Narrow Neck. One of these was young Te Rau-angaanga Mahuta, brother of Rata. Once in camp Te Rau entered cheerfully upon his training work, and so enamoured was he of soldiering duty under the wise and sympathetic command of Captain Peacock, that he wrote to his people announcing his page 22 conversion to the principle of service and appealing to them to fall in with the Government's wishes. He got his stripe as Lance-Corporal, and very likely would have obtained a commission, but by this time (August, 1918) the war was nearing its end, and Waikato's services, willing or otherwise, were not required.
After the application of the Military Service Act to the Maoris, three ballots were held. The first took place in May, 1918. The number of recruits actually produced by these ballots was small; most of those who served were volunteers. The Maoris called up in the three ballots, up to August 17th, numbered 479; of these 136 were passed fit. There were 51 men awaiting medical examination in November, 1918, 117 men had not been traced, and 146 had been classed C2. Nearly 80 names were struck off the lists after inquiry. The compilation of the Maori roll was a task of great difficulty. The Government statistician found it impossible to get the Maoris to complete their registration schedules, and other means had to be adopted of preparing a list of First Division natives of military age. For this purpose every Maori drawn in a ballot received, with the notification that he had been so drawn, a military order to parade on a specified date for medical examination.
The Polynesian Volunteers.
The men who came from the Pacific Islands to serve with the New Zealand forces were all volunteers. In response to the offers of assistance made by the Administration of the islands adjacent to New Zealand, voluntary recruits were accepted for service with the Maori section of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. In some cases the Administration paid the cost of transport and equipment, and, further, paid the men themselves. Rarotongans, Niue men, Gilbert Islanders, Ellice Islanders, and others were brought over to New Zealand in such numbers as the Administrations decided on and received their training in this country before embarkation for active service abroad. Military and medical officers in the service of the Administrations of the island groups were appointed as attesting and medical officers respectively, so that, in the majority of cases the recruits were attested after page 23 having passed medically fit in the islands. Thus only fit men were sent to New Zealand and the procedure saved both Governments considerable expense. Of those sent to New Zealand 631 had embarked for active service or were in a camp of training in New Zealand on Armistice Day.
Throughout the period of the war, the welfare of the lads in the trenches was the constant thought and care of a hardworking committee of native ladies, under the presidency of Lady Pomare. In every kainga which had sent men to the war, the women and girls made or gathered together comforts for their loved ones on the battlefields, and these were sent to the central committee in Wellington, which toiled, too, at sewing and knitting for the soldiers. Large quantities of such articles as shirts and socks, packages of cigarettes and sweets, and cases of mutton-birds from Stewart Island and toheroa shellfish from the west coast of North Auckland, were despatched to the Battalion, and the periodical arrival of these proofs of the loving thought of the people in far-away New Zealand was a matter for great rejoicing in the billets and dugouts of war-swept France and Flanders.