The long-awaited release of Ngā Tama Toa – The Price of Citizenship commemoration book dedicated to the C Company was recently celebrated. More than 5,000 people gathered at Te Poho o Rawiri marae in Gisborne to join in the celebrations.
The book pays tribute to the veterans of C Company - Ngā Kaupoi, whose members were drawn from Tōrere in the Eastern Bay of Plenty to Muriwai south of Gisborne. As part of the infamous Māori Battalion, 995 men joined C Company and fought in the Second World War.
Bob Maru (the first chairman of Ngā Taonga a Ngā Tama Toa Trust) instigated the research on the wishes of Sir Apirana Ngata, who wrote a letter in 1946 suggesting the story of C Company be written. The Trust and researchers spoke to and recorded many of the returned servicemen, their wives and whānau, many of whom have since passed on.
Dr Monty Soutar wrote the book on behalf of the Trust, made up of surviving C Company veterans, their wives, widows and whānau. Together they spent the past 16 years interviewing, researching and compiling this publication. When the project began, 135 C Company veterans were alive.
Ngā Tama Toa is a written and pictorial record detailing the contribution of C Company, the price of citizenship that was paid and the sacrifice that was made so that all Māori could take pride of place without qualms in New Zealand society today.
“The greatest outpouring of love seen in the Gisborne area” was how the launch of the book was described by local media.