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The Maoris in the Great War

Sir Ian Hamilton's Praise

Sir Ian Hamilton's Praise.

General Sir Ian Hamilton, in a special order, September 7th, 1915, said, regarding the fine feat of arms by Lieut.-General Birdwood's troops during the battle of Sari Bair:—

“The fervent desire of all ranks to close with the enemy, the impetuosity of their onset, and the steadfast valour with which they maintained the long struggle, these will surely make appeal to their fellow-countrymen all over the world. The troops under the command of Major-General Sir A. J. Godley, and particularly the N.Z. and Australian Division, were called upon to carry out one of the most difficult military operations that has ever been attempted.—A night march and assault by several columns in intricate mountainous country, page 57 strongly entrenched, and held by a numerous and determined enemy. Their brilliant conduct during this operation and the success they achieved have won for them a reputation as soldiers of whom any country must be proud. To the Australian and N.Z. Army Corps, therefore, and to those who were associated with that famous Corps in the battle of Sari Bair—the Maoris, Sikhs, Ghurkas, and the other troops of the 10th and 13th Divisions from the Old Country—Sir Ian Hamilton tenders his appreciation of their efforts, his admiration of their gallantry and his thanks for their achievements. It is an honour to command a force which numbers such men as these in its ranks.”

The following appreciation (by the present writer) of the Maoris' share in the first battle appeared in a New Zealand paper on arrival of the news of the Sari Bair battle:—

“The casualty lists show that the Maori Contingent took its fair share of the Turkish bullets on the Gallopili hills in this month's fighting, and it is not difficult to picture the pride and elation with which the news would be received in the Native villages throughout the Dominion, for the Maori has always gloried in the honourable scars of war. The little Native force certainly appears to have fully justified the hopes of those who expressed the opinion that four decades of peace and more had by no means extinguished the fighting fire of the race, and the people who have long laid down the gun and tomahawk and who are one now with the pakeha will feel that their ancient warrior mana is safe in the hands of the young men fighting by the side of their white brothers in the country of the Turk. How thoroughly the Native race is represented in the Contingent may be gathered from the casualty lists. Among the wounded Maoris there are young fellows from the Ngapuhi and Rarawa tribes, in the far north of the Auckland province, and one came from Colac Bay, on the shore of Foveaux Strait. Taranaki has one or two wounded men, one from the shores of Lake Taupo has died of wounds, and a number of Rotorua and East Coast soldiers have also been set down in the roll of honour. There are famous names among them too. Two of the wounded are descendants of the King Country chief Wahanui, who was the power behind the page 58 throne in the disaffected districts of the Upper Waikato forty years ago, and who strenuously opposed the white Government up to as late a date as 1880. He was wounded in the Waikato war by a pakeha bullet, and now the young King Country soldiers who carry his noted name will bring back to their Rohepotae homes, if they ever return, the marks of wounds received in Britain's cause. If anything was needed to heal for ever the old racial animosities in the Dominion this war in which our white and brown New Zealanders are fighting and dying together against a common foe will furnish it.”