This Anzac Day, New Zealanders both here at home and overseas will honour the service and sacrifice of those who fought, and we will also tell the stories of the great majority of people who remained at home. This year, we will continue to mark the First World War centenary, reflecting on how WWI affected our nation and our sense of identity.
Published: Wednesday, 22 April 2015 | Rāapa, 22 Paengawhāwhā, 2015
When war was declared in 1914, Māori had mixed views about their participation the First World War, reflecting the range of iwi experiences of British actions in the previous century: from those who supported the war effort to opposition from those who did not want to fight for the British Crown considering the land confiscations of 1860s.
More than 2000 Māori served in the Native Contingent and Pioneer Battalion, which later became the Māori Pioneer Battalion. New Zealand History says ‘some historians argue that it was in battle that many New Zealanders saw Māori not only as soldiers but as individuals for the first time … It was perhaps ironic that these New Zealanders had to go to Gallipoli and France to find out about themselves and each other.’ Dr Monty Soutar writes that the war brought Māori into contact with Pākehā and that cultivated a deep sense of respect and understanding between the two groups. You can read more of his kōrero here.
I would like to pay tribute to our men and women who served overseas and were lost to us, and our men who returned to us and were changed for what they saw. And to all of those families whose husbands, fathers and uncles were called to take up arms, I pay a special tribute for their strength and resilience – that was required of them not only during the war and after.
Kei Wareware Tātou. Lest We Forget