W3 Company - Mihi ki ka Hoia - Tribute to our Māori Soldiers

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28 Māori Battalion returned home from WWII on 23 January 1946.  On their arrival in Wellington the 780 troops were welcomed as returning heroes, before dispersing to their home marae throughout the country.  LtCol James Hēnare dismissed his men with these words:
"Go back to our mountains, go back to our people, go back to our marae. But this is my last command to you all -
stand as Māori, stand as Māori, stand as Māori."

For the W3 Veterans - Addressing a Culteral Oversight

Haere mai, haere mai, haere mai rā.

E ngā hoia, e ngā ika a Whiro, koutou kua hoki mai i te kauhanga riri, nau mai rā.
Hoki mai koutou ko ngā kaitoa i heke te toto, i heke ngā roimata.
Tauti mai rā koutou ko ngā māia i nguha ai, i ngana kaha ai kia haumaru ai te noho.
Ānei mātou te iwi, te whānau e aumihi nei.
Nau mai, tauti mai, hoki mai rā.

Mauria mai ō koutou tini mate, ngā ika o te riri, rātou e rangatū tahi ana ki te pakanga i hinga ai i reira.
Ngā mate huhua i riro atu i ngā parekura, kua karangatia e Hine nui te pō.
Mauria mai ngā au mārō kia mihia, kia tangihia, kia uhungatia.
Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou.
Mauria mai, mauria mai , mauria mai rā.

Nau mai, tauti mai, haere mai.
Hoki mai i te mura o te ahi ki te ūkaipō, ki te whānau.
Hoki mai ki te tūrangawaewae
Whakawhiti atu anō i te marae ātea o Tū, heoi te pakanga kore.
Tae atu ki te whare, ki tō tātou poho nei, e Rongo e.
Mā te iwi koutou e awhi, e manaaki, e tiaki.
Nau mai, tauti mai, hoki mai rā.

Welcome, welcome, welcome home

You the battle weary, the survivors who have returned.
Welcome back our heroes, you who have sweated blood and tears, you have not laboured in vain.

We acknowledge your bravery and your sacrifice to protect our world.

Here we are, we salute you.

Bring your many dead, those slain in battle, those who marched to war at your side never to return.
Your many comrades in arms and those before them who were lost in combat, those who have been called to the night.
Bring the brave soldiers who are at rest so that they may be lamented, mourned and honoured.
We will remember them for eternity. We will remember them.

Welcome back from the cauldrons of war, return home to us, to your whānau, to your land.
Gather again on the marae of Tū, never to battle again.
Come to your whare, in the presence of Rongo, where we will embrace, nurture and protect you.

Welcome, welcome, welcome home.


For many years Vietnam veterans strived for acceptance in New Zealand society.  Parade 98 and Tribute 08 alongside apologies by Parliament and more acceptance by RSA’s has in many people’s eyes drawn to a close the period when veterans were shunned and abused.

But while Maori were involved in these official ceremonies there was only limited respect for the cultural way Maori farewell and welcome home Maori soldiers - 28 Maori Battalion were fare welled from their communities, and later the survivors were welcomed back to their marae with respect for their efforts, sorrow for their losses, returning to the nurture of their communities and families.

The lack of cultural respect shown W3 Maori soldiers in a broader sense was discussed with Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and Fern Whitau a tē reo tutor set her advanced language class the challenge to write the W3 Mihi ki ka Hoia – their Tribute to Our Soldiers (hoia).  The class took some months to develop the W3 mihi from their different perspectives and were appreciative of the opportunity to better understand the trials which Maori endured during and after their service in the Vietnam War.

The W3 Mihi ki ka Hoia was first published on the W3 website on 21 April 2017
as part of the website ANZAC Day remembrance.

In more recent times NZDF has addressed the Maori aspect of armed forces service beginning with the establishment of the National Army Marae ‘Rongomaraeroa-o-nga-hau e wha’ at Waiouru in 1995 and with it the position that all Army personnel and their dependents are members of the Ngati Tumatauenga iwi (in Māori mythology Tūmatauenga is the god of war, hunting, food cultivation, fishing and cooking).  

Here is a simple speech (mihi) which any veteran can use to acknowledge this connection, it identifies the significant features in their military upbringing - mountain, river, land, home, base and family:

Tēnā koutou

(greeting) tear-nar coe-toe

Ko Ruapehu te maunga

(your mountain) caw rua-peh-hoo teh mow-ngar

Ko Moawhango te awa

(your river) caw maw-ar-far-ngaw teh awa

Ko Waiouru te whenua

(your land) caw Waiouru te fen-noo-wuh

Ko Tūmatauenga te marae

(your marae) caw too-mar-tow-weng-ar teh marae

Ko Ngāti Tūmatatenga te iwi

(your iwi) caw ngarty too-mar-tow-weng-ar teh iwi

Ko (your name) au

caw (your name) oh

Tēnā koutou katoa.

(finish) tear-nar coe-toe cut-tor. (coe-toe like the toes on your feet)

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