C Company against battalion museum

Attendance at Waitangi ceremony not an ‘agreement’.

Attendance at Waitangi ceremony not an ‘agreement’.

SHOWING THE WAY: Waka ama and softball leader Walton Walker says adults must be committed, for the benefit of young athletes. Picture by Paul Rickard

Walton Walker, chairman of Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust, has voiced opposition to the Maori Battalion museum being built at Waitangi.

Robert “Bom’’ Gillies of Rotorua, a veteran of the battalion’s B Company, buried some of the mauri (life force) stones at the museum site on Tuesday in a ceremony to mark the project’s official start.

Other mauri stones were buried by Defence Minister Ron Mark.

Mr Walker, who represents descendants of C Company, criticised the Waitangi National Trust for building a memorial house for all companies of the 28th Maori Battalion at Waitangi without the support of C Company descendants.

He said Nga Taonga o Nga Tama Toa Trust held meetings last year with C Company descendants in Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngati Porou and Turanganui-a-Kiwa to get feedback on a proposed 28th Maori Battalion memorial house at Waitangi.

Mr Walker told Maori Television, “our stance is that the treasures and the essential life force of our fathers who went to the Second World War with C Company will remain here at home.”

It was difficult enough getting their elders to agree to C Company House and the Nga Tama Toa book.

“Who are we to say now that we should take these taonga or the essential life force of this house, of the books, of the thoughts, of the verbal accounts within it, to sit in another place in the North?” says Walker.

The C Company descendants had no reservations in supporting a memorial house for A Company to be built in the North.

“But for all companies, for C Company, to be included in a memorial house of the 28th Maori Battalion, we of C Company do not agree.”

“There were many agents from the East Coast, from Ngati Porou, there at the (Waitangi) meeting, but let’s not mistake that as an agreement with this matter,” said Mr Walker.

In June Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced plans for the museum and said it was part of the coalition agreement between New Zealand First and Labour.

The story of A Company, whose men hailed from Northland, was likely to take a central place, but Mr Jones expected the museum to be “comprehensive’’.

More than 100 people attended Tuesday’s ceremony at Waitangi including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Speakers included Bernard Henare, son of Sir James Henare, the battalion’s last commander.

Only one other veteran of the battalion’s original 3600 soldiers is still alive.

The C Company’s Epineha Ratapu, 97, of Masterton, was unable to travel to Waitangi to take part in the ceremony due to ill health.

The museum is being built with funding from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

Waitangi was chosen as it was where Sir Apirana Ngata famously spoke to departing soldiers of the battalion about “the price of citizenship”.

The new museum is due to open on Waitangi Day 2020.

The C Company Maori Battalion Memorial House, located next to Tairawhiti Museum in Stout St, opened in November 2014.

Walton Walker, chairman of Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust, has voiced opposition to the Maori Battalion museum being built at Waitangi.

Robert “Bom’’ Gillies of Rotorua, a veteran of the battalion’s B Company, buried some of the mauri (life force) stones at the museum site on Tuesday in a ceremony to mark the project’s official start.

Other mauri stones were buried by Defence Minister Ron Mark.

Mr Walker, who represents descendants of C Company, criticised the Waitangi National Trust for building a memorial house for all companies of the 28th Maori Battalion at Waitangi without the support of C Company descendants.

He said Nga Taonga o Nga Tama Toa Trust held meetings last year with C Company descendants in Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngati Porou and Turanganui-a-Kiwa to get feedback on a proposed 28th Maori Battalion memorial house at Waitangi.

Mr Walker told Maori Television, “our stance is that the treasures and the essential life force of our fathers who went to the Second World War with C Company will remain here at home.”

It was difficult enough getting their elders to agree to C Company House and the Nga Tama Toa book.

“Who are we to say now that we should take these taonga or the essential life force of this house, of the books, of the thoughts, of the verbal accounts within it, to sit in another place in the North?” says Walker.

The C Company descendants had no reservations in supporting a memorial house for A Company to be built in the North.

“But for all companies, for C Company, to be included in a memorial house of the 28th Maori Battalion, we of C Company do not agree.”

“There were many agents from the East Coast, from Ngati Porou, there at the (Waitangi) meeting, but let’s not mistake that as an agreement with this matter,” said Mr Walker.

In June Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced plans for the museum and said it was part of the coalition agreement between New Zealand First and Labour.

The story of A Company, whose men hailed from Northland, was likely to take a central place, but Mr Jones expected the museum to be “comprehensive’’.

More than 100 people attended Tuesday’s ceremony at Waitangi including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Speakers included Bernard Henare, son of Sir James Henare, the battalion’s last commander.

Only one other veteran of the battalion’s original 3600 soldiers is still alive.

The C Company’s Epineha Ratapu, 97, of Masterton, was unable to travel to Waitangi to take part in the ceremony due to ill health.

The museum is being built with funding from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

Waitangi was chosen as it was where Sir Apirana Ngata famously spoke to departing soldiers of the battalion about “the price of citizenship”.

The new museum is due to open on Waitangi Day 2020.

The C Company Maori Battalion Memorial House, located next to Tairawhiti Museum in Stout St, opened in November 2014.

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Evelynne Nepia, Napier - 2 months ago
The Taonga of C Company would not rest easy if they were taken from their home. As a widow of a C Company man I am against it.

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