• The spirit of his fathers.

    The spirit of his fathers

    Earlier reservations about the involvement of Native soldiers in European affairs changed as casualties increased and the willingness of indigenous peoples to serve alongside their countrymen of European descent became recognised.

    Bloomfield's illustration captures the fighting provenance of the Māori and their forefathers, showing their eagerness to engage in battle. Māori troops were initially commissioned as non-combatants on garrison duty in Malta, but in July 1915 they were re-consigned in to Gallipoli, a combat posting.
    William Blomfield. The spirit of his fathers. From: The New Zealand Observer Christmas annual. Auckland: Geddis and Blomfield, 1915.
  • Maori and Niuean troops in the sea.

    Māori and Niuean troops in the sea

    Niuean and Cook Island recruitment into the Māori Contingent began in October 1915. They were trained at the Narrow Neck Military Camp in Devonport. Established for Māori and Pacific Island troops in July 1915, the camp not only provided basic training but also catered to cultural, climatic and dietary differences.
    Auckland Weekly News. Maori and Niuean troops in the sea at Narrow Neck beach. 20 January 1916. Photo ref: AWNS-19160120-39-2.
  • Niuean recruits at the Narrow Neck camp.

    Niuean recruits at the Narrow Neck camp

    Niuean and Cook Island recruitment into the Māori Contingent began in October 1915. They were trained at the Narrow Neck Military Camp in Devonport. Established for Māori and Pacific Island troops in July 1915, the camp not only provided basic training but also catered to cultural, climatic and dietary differences.
    Auckland Weekly News. Niuean recruits at the Narrow Neck camp. 28 October 1915. Photo ref: AWNS-19151028-46-5.
  • A full kit parade.

    A full kit parade

    The Niuean and Cook Islanders arrived in Egypt in February 1916 and after training served with the Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front. Within three months, many of the Niueans would be returned home, as the cold and illness overwhelmed them.

    The second contingent of Cook Islanders formed the Rarotongan Company and served in the Sinai and Palestine campaigns. They joined the first contingent in France on February 1918.

    Approximately 458 Pacific Islanders served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces, of which 42 became fatalities.
    W. Beattie. A full kit parade of Maori and Niuean soldiers. 3 February 1916. Photo ref: AWNS-19160203-47-1.
  • Māori contingent of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

    Māori contingent of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force

    In total there were 31 drafts for the Māori Contingent/Pioneer Battalion that sailed from New Zealand between 14 February 1915 and 3 October 1918. The 3rd and 11th drafts consisted of Niuean or Rarotongan Companies.

    Shown here is the formal farewell, with a pōwhiri and speeches, for the 8th Māori Reinforcement which embarked from Auckland on 23 September 1916.
    Auckland Weekly News. Double page spread of images mainly focusing on the Maori contingent of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. 18 February 1915. Photo ref: AWNS-19150218-36 and AWNS-19150218-37.
  • A brawny Māori butcher.

    A brawny Māori butcher

    The Pioneer Battalion arrived in France with the New Zealand Division in April 1916 and provided vital support throughout its service on the Western Front.
    Postcard. ANZACS in France: a brawny Maori butcher. Between 1914-1918. Photo ref: Postcard 158.
  • Christmas greetings.

    Christmas greetings

    From the start of the First World War until troops returned home, there were five Christmases with loved-ones absent. Given the high casualty rate, for many families there would not be another Christmas shared together.
    Postcard. Christmas greetings: hands across the sea. Between 1914-1918. Ephemera Collection.
  • The New Zealanders at Gallipoli.

    The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

    The Māori Contingent served in the Sari Bair offensive and the battles for Chunuk Bair and Hill 60. So severe were the conditions, that only 134 of the original 477 men remained when General Godley ordered their evacuation to Egypt to rest and refit on 3 October 1915.

    After the Māori Contingent was replenished by the 2nd and 3rd Māori Reinforcements, Godley reorganised the entire New Zealand Expeditionary Force. In February 1916 he merged the Māori Contingent with the Otago Mounted Rifles to form the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion. Each of the four companies in the Battalion consisted of two Māori and two Pākehā platoons.
    Fred Waite. The New Zealanders at Gallipoli. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1919.
  • The New Zealanders at Gallipoli.

    The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

    The Māori Contingent served in the Sari Bair offensive and the battles for Chunuk Bair and Hill 60. So severe were the conditions, that only 134 of the original 477 men remained when General Godley ordered their evacuation to Egypt to rest and refit on 3 October 1915.

    After the Māori Contingent was replenished by the 2nd and 3rd Māori Reinforcements, Godley reorganised the entire New Zealand Expeditionary Force. In February 1916 he merged the Māori Contingent with the Otago Mounted Rifles to form the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion. Each of the four companies in the Battalion consisted of two Māori and two Pākehā platoons.
    Fred Waite. The New Zealanders at Gallipoli. Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1919.
  • Welcoming the returned Māori Battalion.

    Welcoming the returned Māori Battalion

    The New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion was the only division of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force to return home as a complete unit, with welcoming receptions throughout the nation.

    The tumultuous reception at the Auckland Domain was also an opportunity to acknowledge fallen comrades.

    A total of 2,227 and 458 Pacific Islanders served in the Māori Contingent/Pioneer Battalion during the war, of which 336 died on active service and 734 became casualties through wounds, illness or accidents.
    Auckland Weekly News. A Maori woman welcoming the returned Maori Battalion at the Auckland Domain. 10 April 1919. Photo ref: AWNS-19190410-31-1.
  • New Zealand's roll of honour.

    New Zealand's roll of honour

    Remembered always in our hearts

    Ka pūmau tonu ki a mātou ngākau
    New Zealand's roll of honour 1915: The Auckland Weekly News illustrated list. Auckland: Wilson and Horton, 1915.
  • New Zealand's roll of honour.

    New Zealand's roll of honour

    Remembered always in our hearts

    Ka pūmau tonu ki a mātou ngākau
    New Zealand's roll of honour 1915: The Auckland Weekly News illustrated list. Auckland: Wilson and Horton, 1915.
  • New Zealand's roll of honour.

    New Zealand's roll of honour

    Remembered always in our hearts

    Ka pūmau tonu ki a mātou ngākau
    Auckland Weekly News. New Zealand's Roll of Honour. 5 October 1916. Photo ref: AWNS-19161005-40.
  • Private Flanton.

    Private Flanton

    Private Flanton wears a Māori Contingent cap badge and collar badges of the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion. His sleeve patch designates him as infantry and the Returned Services Association badge shows that he survived the war, but little else is known about him at present.
    Herman Schmidt. Private Flanton of the Māori Contingent, New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion wearing a New Zealand Returned Soldiers Association badge. 1917. Photo ref: 31-F3347.
  • Lance Corporal Purie Davi Harry.

    Lance Corporal Purie Davi Harry

    Lance Corporal Purie Davi Harry (a.k.a. Dave Niutonga) embarked with the 3rd Māori Contingent, and served in Egypt, France and Belgium until he was discharged on account of illness. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
    Herman Schmidt. Lance Corporal Purie Davi Harry, Reg. No. 161371 of the 3rd Māori Contingent, Rarotongans, New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion. 1916. Photo ref: 31-H2289.