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:
For the W3 Veterans - Addressing a Culteral Oversight
Haere mai, haere mai, haere mai rā.
hoia, e ngā ika a Whiro, koutou kua hoki mai i te kauhanga riri, nau
mai ō koutou tini mate, ngā ika o te riri, rātou e rangatū tahi ana
ki te pakanga i hinga ai i reira.
tauti mai, haere mai.
Welcome, welcome, welcome home
battle weary, the survivors who have returned.
We acknowledge your bravery and your sacrifice to protect our world.
Bring your many dead, those slain in battle, those who marched to
war at your side never to return.
back from the cauldrons of war, return home to us, to your whānau,
to your land.
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
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:
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