The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Generally speaking, the country-bred New Zealander has a dry, droll humour that serves to keep himself and his mates amused throughout the day and that portion of the night between "Retreat" and "Lights Out".
You will hear the acknowledged wit of the troop raise a ready laugh by some comical remark, vivid in its apt and terse expression, called forth by one of the minor accidents or incidents of life in camp or on trek, and seconded immediately by the lesser lights among his hearers. That characteristic British form of speech, "WALLY" emphasis by-understatement, bulks largely in their humour. The strategic movements, carried out to achieve some useful, though unofficial, purpose, come under the headings of practical joking and farce as regards their humorous element; sundry incidents, that resulted in a marked increase of "comforts" for horse and man, might be given; but the fact of their unlawfulness, small though it be, and of the possible usefulness of their repetition in the future, render an illustration inadvisable at present.
In the Rarotongans, we have representatives of a race naturally endowed with song, and nothing pleases a New Zealand audience more than to secure items, wonderful in the harmonious blending of the part singing and most moving in vivid expression, from their doughty fellow soldiers and fellow-countrymen, the "Raros".
The conditions of his upbringing have, in most cases, prevented the attainment by the New Zealand mounted man of any marked capacity for public entertainment; but on various occasions some excellent shows have been produced by New Zealanders in Egypt and Palestine. Regimental concert in the field and elsewhere always bring to light more than enough acceptable talent to fill in the evening, whether it be that of a Highland major, performing on the bagpipes, or of a trooper-elocutionist, cleverly impersonating his fellow entertainers.
But in the matter of entertainment the New Zealanders' chief pride centres in the Brigade Band. Hailing originally from Auckland, the Band, under Lieut. W.Stewart, followed the fortunes of the A.M.R. as closely as circumstances permitted, playing them into camp with heartening melody after a weary day on patrol, assisting at church parades and at other military functions, both for its own and for other Regiments.
Three years' campaigning, however, dwindled their strength to twelve bandsmen in September last, when they passed under the aegis of the Brigade, recruited to their present strength, and returned to the base for training. This accomplished, they "proceeded forward" again and are still the delight of all and sundry, soldiers and civilians, with an ear for music.
"Wally" Stewart is an enthusiast: he has hitched his wagon to a star high in the musical firmament, and it is but rarely that he will consent to exchange "the music of the spheres" for the more generally popular rag-time. We shall never forget his hurried exits from the mess whenever the Padre let loose the gram-aphone. It is, however, entirely due to his capable work that the N.Z.M.R. Auckland Band has made such an undoubted good name and helped the New Zealanders so much by the invaluable part it has taken among their entertainers,