Was your grandfather in the Māori Battalion?

Book cover: Nga TamatoaIn 1939 New Zealand answered the call to arms and many Māori enlisted.  In response to Sir Āpirana Ngata‘s request for a Māori Battalion, the 28th Māori Battalion was formed. It was to be a front line infantry unit made up of volunteers.

For these men, it was a baptism of fire in the Mediterranean. They saw action first in Greece, then Crete, where they were outnumbered by the Germans. The Battalion then spent time regrouping and retraining in Egypt. In November 1941 the New Zealand Division moved west into Libya to take part in Operation Crusader, the British Army’s push to lift the siege of Tobruk. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to fight Rommel’s Afrika Corps in the desert. However, on 13 May 1943  the war in the desert ended, leading to the surrender of 238,000 German and Italian troops.

Sgt. Hone (Jackie) Paerata, Trainer, World War II
Sgt. Hone (Jackie) Paerata

In October 1943 the Māori Battalion arrived in Italy. The mud and snow, mountains and rivers were a sharp contrast to the hot arid desert of North Africa.

The Battalion’s main target was Monte Cassino: a mount some 130 kms south-east of Rome, with a Benedictine monastery at the top.  The allies had several attempts at capturing Cassino and the Māori Battalion suffered heavy losses, with 128 out of 200 men killed, wounded or captured. At the end of the war in Europe, it took more than seven months to bring the  Māori Battalion home.

When I started writing this blog post, my colleague Dianne hunted out some fantastic books in our collection for me. I also found this useful link which may help you answer my question: was your grandfather in the Māori Battalion?

If so, or if on Anzac Day you are commemorating the sacrifices of a relative or friend who was or is a war veteran, please do share your memories with us – we’d love to read them.

P.S. Don’t forget also to check out the fantastic Anzac Day display at Shirley Library.

Goldilocks and the three blogs

My favourite festival cover this year.

It had to happen eventually – Goldilocks got tired of bears, their furniture and yucky porridge and took up blogging instead. Her first blog was too hard – she sweated bullets over that one, she really did. Her second blog was too long – she’d got life story and blogging all mussed up. But her third blog was just about right and Goldilocks really got into the swing of it and settled into a steady blogging rhythm.

Then she got sent to Auckland Writers and Readers Festival and that was when Goldilocks realised that there’s blogging and then there’s FESTIVAL BLOGGING. Four days of frantic reading, writing, interviewing and panicking. Colours seem brighter, ideas come faster and she never once thought of porridge. As for beds – that was where you collapsed at 2am, all blogged out. Turns out that festival blogging is like blogging on steroids. And Goldilocks found that she liked steroids!

Youth, hair and flouncing dresses way off to one side here, I’m the Goldilocks in this story. And after much deliberation, here are some of the authors that I am really looking forward to hearing,  meeting and definitely blogging on at AWRF this year.

But first there’s the technology to master. So I took my new laptop to a wifi cafe for a trial run and prevailed on my waitperson to photograph me for this festival blog. In the first photo my nose looked too big. In the second my nose looked too…., you get where I am going with this. After the third shot, my waitron put the camera firmly back on the table and said:

You’re really excited about this festival thing aren’t you?

However did she guess?