Māori Pioneers return cause for celebration
|05 Apr 2019 16:48 PM|
|Image@Te Ara . Govt|
Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the return of the New Zealand Māori (Pioneer) Battalion to Aotearoa - the only battalion of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force to return as a complete unit.
Culure and Heritage Ministry senior Māori historian Dr Monty Soutar says thousands turned out to give its men a rousing welcome.
Seaplanes from the Kohimarama Flying School circled over the troopship Westmorland and dropped messages of welcome, packets of sweets, cigarettes, and buttonholes.
The steamers along the waterfront sounded their sirens as the ship docked at Queen’s Wharf.
The 1000 strong group of Pioneers marched behind bands up Queen Street and across Grafton Bridge, but because of the roar from the cheering crowds it was impossible for the soldiers to keep in step until the leading platoons swung into the Domain and marched to their places on the cricket ground.
Dr Soutar says politician Sir James Carroll, who was of Irish and Ngti Kahungunu descent, spoke of the sacrifices made to ensure a better future for Māori. ‘