Praise flows for record of Maori pioneer battalion

SELLING WELL: Dr Monty Soutar’s book on the Maori Pioneer Battalion in World War 1 has sold more than 2000 copies since it was launched in Gisborne, for the second time, with the Hui Aroha commemoration last month. One hundred men in period uniform marched to honour 100 years since the battalion returned to New Zealand from the war. They gathered for a photograph at Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae. Sir Peter Jackson and Defence Minister Ron Mark are on the left in the second row, while Dr Soutar is in the third row, second from right, and Willie Apiata VC is first right, in the second row. Picture by Stephen Jones Photography

Author and historian Monty Soutar has had an overwhelming response to his book on the Maori pioneer battalion in World War 1, with well over 2000 copies sold since it was launched in early June.

Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E! covers the battalion’s service at Gallipoli, other areas of the Middle East, and in Europe, from 1914 to their return to New Zealand in 1919.

The book will be headed for a reprint as well over two-thirds of the stock from the first run has already sold.

It also looks at the two decades before and after the war to see if anything changed as a result of Maori overseas service.

The 576-page publication contains hundreds of photographs, some of which have been colourised by Sir Peter Jackson’s team, and detailed text about the pioneers’ service.

An article on Whitiki featured in a recent NZ Listener, with writer Peter Calder calling the book “a major new work”.

“Remarkable — Dr Soutar follows the Maori soldiers day by day, and virtually step by step through campaigns at Gallipoli and on the Western Front,” Mr Calder wrote.

“They were in the thick of the action, working as pioneers right up to the front lines.”

Dr Soutar said he had been busy since the launch keeping up with replies to the many messages of congratulation he had received.

From film maker and teacher Pere Durie: “A great book and testament to a job well done, and the Hui Aroha was great also.”

From Major General John Boswell, Chief of NZ Army: “Really does appear to be a great record of Maori service in WW1 capturing an important part of our history — a ‘labour of love’ I’m sure, but incredibly valuable.”

From military historian Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Christopher Pugsley: “My congratulations on your superb book. Brilliantly done and so accessible. Thank you so much for the marvellous personal detail. It is this that will make this work live forever.”

Former soldier, senior public servant and writer Lt Colonel Sir Wira Gardiner: “An amazing book! Kare he kupu tua atu — congratulations!”

Then there were those who attended the launches here and in Auckland.

“I could not put it down, such was the interest to me,” wrote one person in an email.

“It was an amazing and emotional read. My grandfather fought at Gallipoli and I was blessed to be able to visit Gallipoli Peninsula in December 2016, so I found it interesting looking at the maps, knowing where my grandfather had fought, stood and waited,” said another.

“Taku tino mihi atu ki a koe . . . what a book!! A real feeling of pride, tears even just looking at the photographs! The photos of my two uncles are in illustrious company indeed.Thank you,” said another.

Clive Bibby from Tolaga Bay wrote: “It is a demonstration of the real kaitiaki role we should all make an effort to adopt.

“The sacrifices that were made on our behalf during these two mighty conflicts should remain constant reminders of ‘the price of citizenship’.

“A nation is most grateful to you Monty for your own efforts on our behalf.”

Dr Soutar said the responses had been rewarding.

“You put all this effort into researching and writing, years in fact, and you wonder if it will be appreciated.

“The first sign that I had compiled something quite significant was when my wife read it and had such wonderful things to say about Whitiki,” Monty said.

“The positive feedback that has continued to flow in since the launches makes me feel quite humble.

“I wanted to ensure that the men and women of the Great War generation would not be forgotten in this centenary period and I think with God’s help I’ve achieved that.”

Author and historian Monty Soutar has had an overwhelming response to his book on the Maori pioneer battalion in World War 1, with well over 2000 copies sold since it was launched in early June.

Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E! covers the battalion’s service at Gallipoli, other areas of the Middle East, and in Europe, from 1914 to their return to New Zealand in 1919.

The book will be headed for a reprint as well over two-thirds of the stock from the first run has already sold.

It also looks at the two decades before and after the war to see if anything changed as a result of Maori overseas service.

The 576-page publication contains hundreds of photographs, some of which have been colourised by Sir Peter Jackson’s team, and detailed text about the pioneers’ service.

An article on Whitiki featured in a recent NZ Listener, with writer Peter Calder calling the book “a major new work”.

“Remarkable — Dr Soutar follows the Maori soldiers day by day, and virtually step by step through campaigns at Gallipoli and on the Western Front,” Mr Calder wrote.

“They were in the thick of the action, working as pioneers right up to the front lines.”

Dr Soutar said he had been busy since the launch keeping up with replies to the many messages of congratulation he had received.

From film maker and teacher Pere Durie: “A great book and testament to a job well done, and the Hui Aroha was great also.”

From Major General John Boswell, Chief of NZ Army: “Really does appear to be a great record of Maori service in WW1 capturing an important part of our history — a ‘labour of love’ I’m sure, but incredibly valuable.”

From military historian Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Christopher Pugsley: “My congratulations on your superb book. Brilliantly done and so accessible. Thank you so much for the marvellous personal detail. It is this that will make this work live forever.”

Former soldier, senior public servant and writer Lt Colonel Sir Wira Gardiner: “An amazing book! Kare he kupu tua atu — congratulations!”

Then there were those who attended the launches here and in Auckland.

“I could not put it down, such was the interest to me,” wrote one person in an email.

“It was an amazing and emotional read. My grandfather fought at Gallipoli and I was blessed to be able to visit Gallipoli Peninsula in December 2016, so I found it interesting looking at the maps, knowing where my grandfather had fought, stood and waited,” said another.

“Taku tino mihi atu ki a koe . . . what a book!! A real feeling of pride, tears even just looking at the photographs! The photos of my two uncles are in illustrious company indeed.Thank you,” said another.

Clive Bibby from Tolaga Bay wrote: “It is a demonstration of the real kaitiaki role we should all make an effort to adopt.

“The sacrifices that were made on our behalf during these two mighty conflicts should remain constant reminders of ‘the price of citizenship’.

“A nation is most grateful to you Monty for your own efforts on our behalf.”

Dr Soutar said the responses had been rewarding.

“You put all this effort into researching and writing, years in fact, and you wonder if it will be appreciated.

“The first sign that I had compiled something quite significant was when my wife read it and had such wonderful things to say about Whitiki,” Monty said.

“The positive feedback that has continued to flow in since the launches makes me feel quite humble.

“I wanted to ensure that the men and women of the Great War generation would not be forgotten in this centenary period and I think with God’s help I’ve achieved that.”

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