The development and promotion of resources to Ngāi Tahu whānui and the wider community, that share the stories and history of our soldiers who contributed to New Zealand’s war effort.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu have undertaken this initiative to contribute to First World War commemorations in Aotearoa. The project was designed to develop and promote accessible resources to Ngāi Tahu whānui and the wider community that bring to light the stories and history of Ngāi Tahu soldiers from throughout the country, who contributed to New Zealand’s war effort overseas.
He Rau Mahara was undertaken by the Whakapapa Unit to honour those Ngāi Tahu men who served in the Great War – Te Pakanga Tuatahi o Te Ao. They fought on battlefields far from home, with some of them never to return to the country they were fighting for. Their names are not often celebrated in our tribal history but the struggles and sacrifices they went through deserve our recognition.
Research was undertaken by our project team firstly for the two hundred and sixty five Ngāi Tahu soldiers that participated in the First World War, then further detailed research and whānau interviews were also completed to capture insight into the experiences and journeys of those soldiers.
We have conducted interviews and read through diaries, letters, post cards, and military records to uncover stories that have never been shared. He Rau Mahara is about creating a taonga that recognises the contributions that our soldiers made.
We are ensuring that their stories are preserved for future generations and entrust our whānui to treat this as the taonga that it is. Ultimately all of this information will be published online and in our book showcasing a selection of the stories we have so far.
We hope that all Ngāi Tahu whānui will feel the same sense of pride, that we feel about not only this project, but our poua who served. Uncovering the stories of our heroes is of huge significance to the iwi, but it is especially meaningful to the whānau of the soldiers who have been profiled.
He Rau Mahara will give whānau the opportunity to learn that little bit more about their tipuna. Without this project, the stories and memory of our men would remain unspoken.
Now 100 years on from “The War to end all Wars”, He Rau Mahara is sharing the stories of our Ngāi Tahu men who fought so far from home.
The great men who fought in the great war are our Tipuna, our soldiers and our heroes. We will remember them.