Monday, 8 May 2023

Nga Purakau o Te Arawa

Stories of  Te Arawa 

In Aotearoa, ngā pūrākau (creation narratives) are an ancient form of transmitting and creating shared meaning through storytelling.

These creation stories provide a way of looking at our world and environment through a Māori lens. They stand as a model for individual and collective identity, behaviour and aspirations.
Te Arawa ancestors have rich pūrākau, which help us understand origins that are embedded with wisdom and universal lessons to navigate through many of life’s transitions. In these pūrākau, heroines and heroes act as exemplars of human potential, insight and understanding.

I share, with permission, three of the purakau of Te Arawa:

Hatupatu and Kurangaituku

I a Hātupatu e mahi manu ana i te ngahere, ka kite ia i tētehi mea tino rerekē. He wahine e tino rite nei ki te manu. He parirau i ōna ringa, he maikuku roa i ōna matimati, kāore hoki ōna ngutu tangata, heoi, he ngutu manu roa kē i whakamahi ai ia hei tao ki te mahi manu.

Hatupatu was spending the day alone in the forest hunting for birds when he came across a very unusual scene. A short distance away, Hatupatu saw a strange woman with wings on her arms and claws where her fingers should be.  Instead of soft lips, the woman had a mouth like a bird’s beak and was busily using it as a spear to catch birds.

To read the full story go to the Great Te Arawa Stories website:

Maggie Papakura on porch of 'Rauru' house. c.1904. Photograph by Arthur James Iles (b.1870, d.1943). Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (CP-182)

The above photograph is of Nelson's Carved House 'Rauru" at Whakarewarewa before he sold it in 1910. 

A journalist wrote the following about this carved house:

Captain Nelson has been able to construct a carved house which is certain to create a considerable amount of antiquarian interest.

 The journalist continues:

The single door and window with their frames are beautifully carved and unlike the other wood are coloured black. On the heavy sliding door consisting of a single Kauri slab, is depicted the grotesque and fearful image of the witch Kurangaituku... the window upon which appears the figure of her husband. (Auckland Star, 1906.)

'Rauru' can be visited today at the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg.

A little more about Hatupatu

Hatupatu's story does not begin and end with his near fatal experience with Kurangaituku, it seems he was also known as a conservationist, he is described here by Don Stafford: 

Hatupatu lived on Mokoia Island with his parents, but he often travelled across to Rotoiti and Maketu. “He always wore a tupare and often if he liked a place, he would pluck a twig from it and plant it there. That’s what he did here at Ngaukawakawa”

Another tale told is of Hatupatu’s attempt to bring snapper and acclimatise some seventy he had netted at Maketu in Lake Rotorua, sadly though only one snapper survived the trip: 

It was immediately released into the water, whereupon (tradition says) it swam out into the lake, circled Mokoia Island once and returned to the point of its release, beached itself then died’ (Stafford 1999, p.42)

Hatupatu's historic landmark rock on the Taupo Putaruru Highway. Evening post (Newspaper. 1865-2002): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1958/1863-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23247524

The travels of Kahumatamoemoe and Ihenga

Ko Kahumatamomoe te tama a te rangatira o te waka o Te Arawa, a Tamatekapua.  I ū rāua tahi ko tāna irāmutu, ko Īhenga mā runga i te waka rā ki uta i Maketū.
Nōna e takahi ana i te nuku o te whenua ki tuawhenua, nā Īhenga ngā moana o Te Rotoiti-i-kitea-ai-e-Īhenga me Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe i tapa i mua i tana wehenga ki te kite i ōna tuākana, i a Taramainuku rātau ko Warenga ko Huarere i noho ai i Te Tai Tokerau.
Kahumatamomoe was the son of Tamatekapua, captain of the Arawa waka. He arrived on the waka at Maketū, with his nephew Īhenga.
On his journey inland, Kahumatamomoe named Te Rotoiti-i-kitea-ai-e-Īhenga (Lake Rotoiti) and Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe (Lake Rotorua) before heading off to visit Īhenga’s older brothers, Taramainuku, Warenga and Huarere, who lived in the far north.

To read the full story go to the Great Te Arawa Stories website:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Ngā waewae tapu – Māori exploration - Te Arawa explorers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 14 March 2023)

Ihenga and the patupaiarehe

I ngā rā o tuawhakarere, ko Te Tūāhu-a-te-Atua i te tihi o Ngongotahā te kāinga o tētehi iwi porehu.  E ai ki te kōrero, he iwi ira atua i mau ai i a rātau te mana atua, ka mutu, i mōhio whānuihia te iwi rā e kīia nei ko te Patupaiarehe.

Long ago the summit of Ngongotahā called Te Tūāhu a te Atua (The Altar of the God) was the home of a mysterious people called the Patupaiarehe. They were thought to be an iwi atua or people of supernatural powers. To some they were known as the ‘fairy people’.

To read the full story go to the Great Te Arawa Stories website:

In the following image of a 1913 survey map the Fairy Spring is clearly marked.

Land  Information New  Zealand (LINZ) and licensed by LINZ for re -use under the  Creative Commons  Attribution 4.0  International licence.

This post was written by Alison


Stafford, D. M. (Donald Murray). (1999).  Pakiwaitara: Te Arawa stories of Rotorua. Reed.
Hatupatu and Kurangaituku. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2023, from
Travels of Kahumatamoemoe and Ihenga (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2023 from
Ihenga and the patupaiarehe (n.d.). Retrieved 14 March, 2020 from
New carved house at Whakarewarewa (1906, January 15).  Auckland Star. 
Institute of Cadastral Surveying Inc. (1913) [Survey plan of part of Rotohokahoka D North No.2A Block]. [Map] Retrieved April 19, 2023 from Cadastral Index.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

A story waiting to be told: Alice Clara Searell

All lives are filled with stories. Rich and relatable, but never exactly the same. For those born at the end of the 19th-century, it was difficult to avoid narratives punctuated by the First World War. The story of Alice Clara Searell, the subject of this blog, was etched deeply with the realities of this brutal conflict. 

Alice was one of a small group of New Zealand women who experienced the war first-hand. Between 1915 and 1919, she served overseas as a nurse with the army. Her heroism was awarded with a Royal Red Cross in 1919. But, her bravery did not stop there. Servicemen returning home to Aotearoa were in desperate need of convalescent care. It seems likely Alice would have heard their call louder than others, having supported them throughout the conflict. Upon her return, she accepted a nursing role here in Rotorua, at King George V Military Hospital.   

New Zealand nurses on board the Rotorua, during World War I. Commons family: Assorted negatives, photographs and postcards relating to the Commons family. Ref: PAColl-0321-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
New Zealand nurses on board the Rotorua, during World War 1. Commons family: assorted negatives, photographs and postcards relating to the Commons family. Ref: PAColl-0321-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, wellington, New Zealand. (  

Nurse Alice Searell in Mrs Walton's home with Mrs Walton's son and two unidentified soldiers. Photograph from page 58 of First World War Photograph Album. Ref: 1992.1156.1. National Army Museum of New Zealand. (

Life through a lens 

When Alice passed away in 1972, after an impressive 92 years, her legacy was fragile. She never married or had children. Her stories could have easily been lost to time. Thankfully, glimmers remain in photographs preserved in archives across Aotearoa, including the community archive here at Te Aka Mauri. We are lucky to have been gifted an album depicting her life at King George V Military Hospital. 

Through the camera lens, we see a glimpse of what Alice experienced. The photographs are also a significant record of our history. We encounter the men and children she looked after. The ways in which she and her colleagues passed their time. Smiles, giggles and awkward expressions. And, a landscape that has since changed. 

Images from Ams 178/1: photograph album in Rotorua Library’s community archive:








  1. Untitled photograph showing two convalescing servicemen in Ōhinemutu, with the hospital in the background. 
  2. A trip out to The Dragon’s Mouth, Wairakei.Valley.
  3. Photograph titled “Self and Leiut. Comm. Takeska”.  
  4. Japanese marines playing tennis in the hospital grounds.  
  5. Photograph titled “He deserves some too”! 
  6. Nurses after Christmas dinner, 1934. This was the year the hospital was taken over by the Waikato Hospital Board and Alice Searell retired. 
  7. Sister McPatrick with patients. The poliomyelitus epidemic of the 1920s made it necessary for the hospital to specialise in orthopaedic treatment, for which it became a major centre. 

Alice's Timeline

1883: Born in Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. 

1909: Completed the state examination of nurses in medical and surgical work at Timaru Hospital. 

1909-1914: Worked as a staff nurse at Kew Hospital in Southland and then as a district nurse in Invercargill. 

1914-1919: Served overseas with the New Zealand Army (Reg No 22/42 NZANSC). Alice departed Aotearoa for Egypt 8 May 1915 and served in Field Hospital Alexandria. She was one of the first 50 nurses to enlist. For further details of her time nursing overseas, please refer to this page on the National Army Museum’s website. 

1919: Returned to Aotearoa for demobilisation and then worked in a military hospital in Dunedin.  

1919: Awarded Royal Red Cross in recognition of valuable nursing services in connection with the war. 

1920: Started work as a nurse King George V Military Hospital. 

1924: Became matron of King George V Hospital. 

1934: Left her role at the hospital, after it was taken over by the Waikato Hospital Board, to take up a role as matron of the Dental Nurse Hostel in Wellington. 

Late 1930s or early 1940s: Retired to Auckland. 

1975: Died in Auckland at the age of 92. She was cremated at the Purewa Cemetery. 

Returning to Rotorua

In 1961, Alice returned to Rotorua for the first time in 27 years. She was amazed to see two familiar faces: Mr “Bunny” Davis, who had been the office boy in her time, and Mr Russell, the hospital dispenser. The article explains that, since her retirement, Alice had not lived a quiet life: “She is a member of the Returned Sisters Club, holds bridge parties at her home, and is a keen gardener. Her pet hobby is teaching her budgie, “Chatterboy,” to talk.” 



Alice Searell returns after 27 years. (1961, November 4). Rotorua Daily Post, p.3 

Invercargill Nurse Decorated for Duty to the Sick. National Army Museum.  

New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1853-1981. Ancestry.  

SEARELL Alice Clara - Auckland – Spinster. Archives New Zealand (R13110977).  

Wilson, Kathryn Faye, 1945- (1998). Angels in the Devil's pit: nursing in Rotorua, 1840-1940. Karo Press

Friday, 7 October 2022

Rotorua Onscreen: Hinemoa and Tūtānekai

Rotorua has the honour of being the location of the first feature film shot in New Zealand.

George Tarr's Hinemoa, which was filmed in eight days in Rotorua, premiered at Auckland's Lyric Theatre on 17 August 1914. (Mita, 1992).

Advertisement for screening of Hinemoa following premiere. Auckland Star (1914, August 14), p. 8. Papers Past.

Tarr had borrowed 50 pounds from Auckland Chamber of Commerce president Edward Anderson and with cameraman Charles Newman had travelled to Rotorua. Tarr had originally intended on producing a film based on Māori life as depicted in the travelling show The Maori. At Home! At Play! At War!, by Reverend Frederick Bennett's Rotorua Māori Mission Choir and Entertainers. But the prospect of war with Germany prevented the expensive project from going ahead. Anderson had offered to fund a similar smaller project. Tarr went to the library. He said 'I read Hinemoa backward and forwards and forwards and backwards and I wrote a scenario'. He meet with Anderson that same day and by the following evening he was in Rotorua (Yarwood, 2021, p. 128).

Hera Tawhai (Sarah Rogers) and her husband Rua played the main roles of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai. They had been playing the roles in a Māori concert in Rotorua. Tarr put the film together with minimal editing. In an interview recorded when he was 81, Tarr said 'I did it as much as possible with the scenes following each other...As a matter of fact, our cuttings were nil, practically' (Martin & Edwards, 1997, p. 23). 

Sadly the nitrate film stock has long since disintegrated and the film is lost. All that remains are a few productions stills, daybills, and radio interviews (Martin & Edwards, 1997).

Hinemoa (Dir. George Tarr, 1914). Hera Tawhai Rogers as Hinemoa. Image reproduced with permission from the family.

In 1962 Rogers did a radio interview in which she recalled her role, costumes and adventures shooting on location. You can listen to this interview here

Tarr's was the second film based on the legend of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai. The first was a short film directed by French American-based filmmaker Gaston Méliès, who was the older brother of famous filmmaker Georges Méliès. In 1913 he shot three short films in Rotorua - How Chief Te Ponga Won His Bride, Hinemoa, and Love by a Māori Chieftess, as well as five scenic tourist films. Méliès would be one of the first directors to understand the ease in which Māori actors took to the camera (Harvey, 2005).

Méliès brought 17 members of his filmmaking company from America to New Zealand. He engaged James Cowan as a cultural advisor. He described Cowan as an 'authority on Māori legend and custom' and as a 'general advisor and interpreter' (Fox, Grant, Radner, 2011, p. 18). It is also believed that Reverend Bennett was also involved in Méliès' production as he credits a Pastor Bennett (Martin & Edwards, 1997).

Maata (Martha) Horomona of Ōhinemutu portrayed Hinemoa. In letters to his son Paul, Méliès wrote 'We're in a foul country, cold, rainy, windy...but it's interesting because of the Māoris...very fine people, very intelligent...I only had to explain very slowly to Martha what I wanted and she would immediately do it with a natural grace.' (Dennis, 1992, p. 191).

The negatives of Méliès films were developed in New Zealand and then sent to New York. Similar to Tarr none of Méliès New Zealand short films are known to have survived (Callanan, 2011).

Gaston Méliès at Whakarewarewa, 1912. Image reproduced with permission of Tūhourangi Tribal Authority 

A third adaption of the Hinemoa and Tūtānekai legend, The Romance of Hine-Moa was directed by Danish director Gustav Pauli for British film production company Sphere Films and released in 1927 (Bythe, 1994). 

Maata Hurihanganui (Martha Wickliffe) was cast Hinemoa. Minister of Native Affairs Sir James Carroll’s son Wiki was cast as Tūtānekai. Wickliffe told the Daily Post aged 75 that 'I just couldn’t act with him.' So Martha’s cousin Matt Hona (Akuhato) was cast.

Only the first reel now survives. It was found in 1981 by London barrister Mr J Samuels who lived in a house once owned by Pauli and loaned to the New Zealand High Commission and later transferred to the New Zealand Film Archive.

Wickliffe said in an interview in 1981 that she was paid a pound a day. 'A lot of money in those days. I thought it a great honour to play Hinemoa. The film was very well received overseas. It blended a love story into the scenic beauty of New Zealand. Many overseas viewers found it a wonderful experience to see another country' ("Star of Hinemoa", 1981, p. 1)

Maata Hurihanganui (Martha Wickliffe) as Hinemoa and Akuhato (Mat Hona) as Tūtānekai. The Romance of Hine-Moa (1927, Dir. Gustav Pauli). Museum of Ethnography of Sweden, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5)

Rotorua was an early popular film location largely due to its scenery, but also because the Te Arawa people were active in the tourism industry as guides and performers, and these skills adapted well to film acting.

Other notable films shot in Rotorua include:

  • Māori Maid's Love (1916, Dir. Raymond Langford)
  • The Mutiny of the Bounty (1916, Dir. Raymond Langford)
  • The Birth of New Zealand (1922, Dir. Harrington Reynolds)
  • The Adventures of Algy (1925, Dir. Beaumont Smith)
  • Rewi's Last Stand (1925, Dir. Rudall Hayward)
  • Under the Southern Cross, also known as The Devil's Pit or Taranga (1929, Dir. Lew Collins)

This blog post was written by Graeme.


Blythe, M. (1994). Naming the other: images of Maori in New Zealand film and television. The Scarecrow Press.

Callanan, V. (2011). Gaston Méliès. In D. Pivac, F. Stark, & L. McDonald) New Zealand Film: an illustrated history (pp. 45). Te Papa Press.

Dennis, J. (1992). A time line. In J. Dennis & J. Bieringa (Eds.), Film in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 183-219). Victoria University Press.

Fox, A., Grant, B. K., & Radner, H. (2011). Introduction: the historical film in New Zealand cinema. In F. Fox, B. K. Grant, H. Radner (Eds.), New Zealand cinema: interpreting the past. Intellect.

Harvey, B, (2005). White cloud, silver screen. Exisle Pub.

Martin, H. & Edwards, S. (1997). New Zealand Film, 1912-1916. Oxford University Press.

Mita, M. (1992). The soul of the image. In J. Dennis & J. Bieringa (Eds.), Film in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 37-54). Victoria University Press.

Star of Hinemoa film still has charm, beauty. (1981, October 1). The Daily Post, 1.

Yarwood, V. (2021, July-August). How to make a film in eight days. New Zealand Geographic, 170, 128.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

The Call to Navigate the Stars

Me mātau ki te whetū, I mua kōkiri o te haere

Before you set forth on a journey,

Be sure you know the stars 

The study of the cosmos is a pursuit of knowledge that unites all peoples from around the world. This year marks the first year that Matariki will be acknowledged as a national holiday in Aotearoa. In recent years Matariki has become a time for all people to celebrate through Māutauranga Māori (Maori Knowledge) but also to celebrate and share their own uniqueness and culture (Matamua,2018). The Te Arawa confederation has been provided by its forbearers a rich navigational history that serves as trace reminders to their ascendants that we carry all we need with in us to answer the call of the stars, step into the fullness of who we are and successfully navigate the path of our own dreams (Ihimaera, 2020).

The migration from Hawaikii to Aotearoa was an incredible act of courage and unrivalled feat of oceanic navigation. Maketū holds special significance for Te Arawa being the landing place of the great Te Arawa waka (Tapsell, 2017). Memorialising this significant history is the Maketū monument. Built at a site remembered as Ōngatoro in 1940; it rises from a stone base with eight sides representing the children of Rangitihi thus the descendants of Te Arawa. Incorporated into its construction are pieces of granite slab from the Coromandel where the commander Tamatekapua is buried. Stones are stacked to form the memorials spire, in memory of the great navigator and high priest explorer Ngā-toro-i-rangi who was the first to step off onto land and conduct rituals beneath the Pōhutakawa tree in full bloom. It is said two stone anchors used to stabilise the great waka were in the Maketū estuary, marking the place where the waka landed.

National Library of New Zealand

Māori sea fearing culture is deeply embedded in our Polynesian roots. Māori relied on non-instrumental navigation amongst other techniques and technologies that were taught and passed on like Tātai Arorangi (star lore), whakairo (carving) and toi raranga (weaving) (Bader, McCurdy, Chapple,1999). Polynesian navigators relied on the position of the stars to guide them along on their voyaging routes. Navigators knew stars held their positions steady in the sky throughout the year, although at times stars would rise, or set, changing seasonally like that of the Matariki constellation. The star map known as Kāpu whetū was an adaption made by navigator Jack Thatcher for navigators from Aotearoa (Inia, 2018).  

Fig 2.Sited

The star map known as Kāpu whetū was an adaption made by navigator jack thatcher adapted from a Polynesian adaption which was originally sourced from the original Micronesian star map designed and used by navigator Mau Piailug

Devastatingly the affects of colonisation infiltrated all aspects of Māori society. The Polynesian achievements and skill required in voyaging the pacific were both denigrated and romantiscised (Walker, 1990). Many cultural practices such as star lore, and the technologies associated with voyaging were either lost and or forgotten almost to the point of distinction (Inia, 2018)

Fig 3.

However due to the steadfast commitment of those cultural practitioners dedicated to the reclamation of mātauranga Māori a revitalization of these aspects of Māori culture has experienced a renaissance. An exemplar of this work is that of master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell of Te Arawa descent and Tahitian master navigator Francis Cowan who joined forces building a double hull waka which was gifted the name Hawaiki Nui I. (Gill, 2011). This prestigious maritime vessel was crafted utilising customary knowledge, tradition and skills. Whole lifetimes of experience and years in the making it was in 1985 that Matahi, Francis and three others set off on this historically momentous journey sailing and retracing the route of Te Arawa-Tainui from Tahiti to Rarotonga then South-west to Aotearoa. Reinvigorating the voyaging techniques of their ancestral navigation predecessors, using the stars, reading all the signs and wonders of their oceanic environment as their guide (Whakataka-Brightwell, 1994).

Fig 4. Ko Matahi Avauli Whakataka-Brightwell me te Waka Hawaiiki-nui, Pahiatua
Photo credited to Stuff Limited

Fig 5. 1/2-032743-F Maori canoe builders at work on Hawaiki-Nui - Photograph taken by Ross Giblin. Dominion Post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1981/0778/35A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22840685

Fig 6. Ko Matahi Avauli Whakataka-Brightwell me te Waka Hawaiiki-nui, Pahiatua
Photo credited to Stuff Limited

Ancestral knowledge is encrypted in taonga tuku iho (ancestral expressions of cultural value that are handed down) they are intrinsically imbued with tangible and intangible qualities like (philosophy), tikanga (custom and lore) and karakia. Re-discovering these path ways of knowledge is like accessing a cultural archive (Starzecka, D.C, Neiche, R. Pendergrast, M. 2010)
. With only one example of Māori waka sail in existence, named Te Rā and housed in the British Museum. It is only in recent years that attention has been focused on the weaving technology incorporated into the production of sails for these maritime vessels an essential component to the success of these Pacific voyaging migrations which would not otherwise have been able to happen. Future generations can benefit and become part of the ongoing reclamation of this knowledge (Starzecka, D.C, Neiche, R. Pendergrast, M. 2010).

Fig 7. Image sited:

Kia Whakatōmuri te Haere Whakamua. 

I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past.

This whakataukī or 'proverb' speaks to Māori perspectives of time, where the past, the present and the future are viewed as intertwined, and life as a continuous cosmic process (Walker, 1990).

In 2022 three Te Wānanga o Aotearoa staff have been awarded doctorates in raranga (traditional Māori weaving) through Auckland University of Technology’s Te Ipukarea Research Centre. Their unique joint project - covering raranga past, present and future required each to individually work towards their PhDs through completing research and creating raranga. Each piece of work produced could stand on its own merit but also worked together creating a collective body of work. 

The overarching kaupapa of the joint PhDs project was the role of kairaranga – who were essential in the effective functioning of Māori society - from the past to the future. Amongst many other customary cultural practices our navigational technologies were almost made extinct. However it is worthy to remember within our great migrations from Polynesia also came with us an abundant basket of knowledge that was adapted and evolved to suit the new conditions and resources of this land.

Fig 8. Photos attributed to Te Wananga o Aotearoa - From left to right: Gloria Taituha, Jacqueline McRae-Tarei and Rose Te Ratana at a recent display of their work, Standing under waka sails woven by Jacqueline.Left photo below Rose Te Ratana

 and to the right Gloria Tohutu

Producing a collective time line of work reflecting this understanding and transmission of knowledge Jacqueline McRae-Tarei, a Kaiwhakahaere Ako in Kawerau, looked at historical raranga up to 860 and created sails. Gloria Taituha, a Te Awamutu-based Poururuku, studied the period from 1860 to 1970. Rose Te Ratana, a kaiako from Rotorua, researched raranga from 1970 and into the future and looked more deeply into whāriki. In an interview with the Waikato Herald the ladies commented “Raranga isn't just decorative – it was essential to the successful migration of Māori to Aotearoa and their life here amid a colder climate. So, we acknowledge our tīpuna kairaranga from the distant past as well as more modern and contemporary practitioners who have carried the practice forward (Herald, 2021)

So thanks to the focus, dedication and commitment of cultural practitioners such as these kairaranga and all those that have gone before them and will come after; their research creates an important body of work about the practice of raranga across time and its path into the future. They become part of the continuum of this story carrying their past into their future and in their continued practice and transmission of the practice of raranga they strengthen the connection to the ancestors who are ever present existing both in the physical and spiritual aspects of their work and ensuring its legacy for generations to come.


Walker, R. (1990). Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle without end. Penguin.
Matamua, R. (2018). Matariki the star of the year. Huia.
Ihimaera, W. (2020). Navigating the Stars: Māori creation myths. Penguin.
Whakataka-Brightwell, G (1994). Waka. Learning Media Ltd.
Inia, R. (2018). E Oho. Te Mau Aroha.
Bader, H-D., McCurdy, P., & Chapple, J., (1999). Proceedings of the waka symposium 1996: Voyages from the past to the future. Te Huiteananui-A-Tangaroa, New Zealand Maritime Museum
Gill, M. (2011). New Zealand Hall of Fame:50 Remarkable Kiwis. New Holland
Starzecka, D.C, Neiche, R. Pendergrast, M. (2010). Te Papa Press

Paul Tapsell, 'Te Atrawa - Serttlement and Migration', Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.Te 20 June 2017)
Maketu Te Arawas first settlement,

Fig.1.1/2-032743-F National Library of New Zealand
Fig 2.Image attributed to
Fig 3.
Fig 4. Ko Matahi Avauli Whakataka-Brightwell me te Waka Hawaiiki-nui, Pahiatua. Photo credited to Stuff Limited
Fig 5. 1/2-032743-F Māori canoe builders at work on Hawaiki-Nui Photograph taken by Ross Giblin. Dominion Post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1981/0778/35A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22840685
Fig 6. Ko Matahi Avauli Whakataka-Brightwell me te Waka Hawaiiki-nui, Pahiatua. Photo credited to Stuff Limited
Fig 7. Image sited:
Fig 8. Photos attributed to Te Wananga o Aotearoa

Friday, 1 April 2022

ANZAC 2022: A Lasting Reminder?


Photo by Alison 

Remembering those who fought for New Zealand in the other localised wars across the globe, and those who grew not old.

1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War and following on from World War 2, 1948-1965 
Our first international war was the Boer War of 1899-1902 in the Transvaal region of South Africa. Following the British annexation of Transvaal in October 1900, the conflict in South Africa entered a second phase: guerrilla war.

Rotorua men were recruited and of the men who went, only one did not come home. This soldier was Fred Wylie who was killed in action at Klippersfontein. Wylie was part of the 7th contingent, 8 Coy., he was a farmer who lived at Galatea. His father Mr Joseph Wylie was a teacher and JP.

Others who went from Rotorua are Henry Robert Seymour Corlett, his father was Mr. B.S. Corlett and George Steele, one of the brothers who owned the Sawmill on the corner of Tutanekai and Eruera Sts, was a Sergeant and was shipped out at the same time as Wylie and Corlett. New Zealand soldiers are recorded in Stowers ‘Rough Riders at War’, also recorded is the names of the Maori detachment, two Te Arawa men are named, E. Hikairo and A. Wiari.  Stowers reports that some of the names in the list could be misspelt. 

Maori were not welcomed by the British and were officially excluded from service in South Africa, however Premier Richard Seddon made a push for Maori participation:

although permission to form a Māori contingent was never received, the New Zealand authorities sometimes turned a blind eye to individual Māori who tried to enlist under English names. Most of those who succeeded were ‘half-castes,’ as those of mixed race were then generally known. Many were well-educated and fluent in spoken and written English.

Stowers also mentions the Māori nurses and orderlies who served during 1900, one such orderly was Petera Waaka (Tuhourangi). No further information is mentioned here.
The Wylie Memorial was commissioned and Mr Parkinson of Auckland was appointed, completing the statue by January of 1904, it was unveiled c.19 January 1904. The statue comprised a water fountain at its base and above a representation of the fallen soldier.  Other memorials like this one were also erected elsewhere in NZ.
Price, William Archer, 1866-1948: Collection of post card negatives. Ref: 1/2-001505-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

After World War Two...
JayForce 1946-1948
Outside of the well documented WW1 and WW2, JayForce was formed and served in Japan, as the New Zealand contingent of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.
Many Rotorua men were sent overseas for World War 2 and some stayed on moving to JayForce and serving there for the following reason: 

The Commonwealth troops were to oversee Japanese demilitarisation and demobilisation. Jayforce was initially deployed in Yamaguchi prefecture on the southern tip of the main island of Honshu, and on nearby Eta Jima Island. This was a relatively poor rural region with a population of 1.4 million – not much less than New Zealand’s total population at the time.  The New Zealanders’ first task was to search for military equipment. Little was found, as Yamaguchi had not had a major military presence during the war. Jayforce also assisted with the repatriation of Japanese who were coming home and Koreans who were being returned to their own country…  An April 1948 decision to withdraw Jayforce from Japan was implemented by early 1949. (

Approximately 45 Rotorua men were part of the BCOF you can find their names on the Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph

Recognition for Jayforce, was the New Zealand Service Medal 1946-1949, not issued until 1995.

Photo by Alison, courtesy of Kete Rotorua

KayForce 1950-1953

Prior to New Zealand’s armed forces became involved, it was reported in February 1949 that ‘South Korea has been invaded by Soviet trained troops with Russian rifles, machine guns, mortars and field artillery’ (Ashburton Guardian, 1949)  Officially the war  began 25 June 1950.   In July of 1950, Koreans living in Japan were called upon to “rise and sabotage the war effort of the United States” (Ashburton Guardian, 1950).

New Zealand’s 1056-man Kayforce arrived at Pusan, South Korea, on New Year’s Eve 1950. It was part of the United Nations’ ‘police action’ to repel North Korea’s invasion of its southern neighbour.  The New Zealanders joined the 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade and saw action for the first time in late January 1951. Thereafter they took part in the operations in which the UN forces fought their way back to and across the 38th Parallel, recapturing Seoul in the process. 

Of those enlisted were 292 were from Rotorua, listed in the Rotorua Morning Post from 28th July 1950 to 4th August 1950, a further enlistment occurred in June 1951 and January 1953.

In November of 1951 an article printed in the Press (Christchurch) reports that the North Korean Foreign Minister made a four-point proposal to the United States to end the Korean War. However it was not until 1953 that armistice was finally reached.  The Russian Prime Minister immediately offered congratulations to Kim Il Sung and also offered assistance to help ‘rehabilitate Korea’.

It was an uneasy truce it seems because reports came from Taipei that the Republic of Korea would take military action if a general war flares up in the Formosa Strait, since the Korean Communists had violated the truce agreement. (Press, 1955)

However New Zealand had recalled Kayforce and in the Rotorua Post of 18 June 1957, this small article appeared on the front page:

K-Force Men to return, only about 70 men will return in August.  The troops go by sea to Hong Kong and will fly home in an air force aircraft, No.41 Squadron via Singapore, Darwin and Amberley, finally arriving at Whenuapai August 10th & 11th Rotorua Post (1957, June 18).

Photo by Alison, courtesy of Kete Rotorua

Malayan Emergency 1952-1966

Three British planters in northern Malaya in 1948 were murdered.  This brought on hostilities in Malaya dubbed the Malayan Emergency, once more called for international help.  A guerrilla campaign was mounted by the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party against British forces.   New Zealand got involved in 1949 when several army officers served while on secondment with British units.   

Since the situation in Malaya was still ongoing, NZ called for SAS volunteers. Four Rotorua men enlisted and undertook training, and embarked among the 190 strong contingent. They were Clive P. Ngatai, Buck H. Rogers and Mathew Tamehana and Sonny Osbourne.  Rotorua Post. (1955. October 25).

Later once the need for soldiers increased the Rotorua Post reported:

‘Recruiting will start tomorrow for Malayan Battalion’

The Minister of Defence, Mr Macdonald said recruiting for an infantry battalion would start on the 19th of June at all army offices. The Army sub-area office in Rotorua is in the Mokoia Buildings at the corner of Hinemoa and Tutanekai Streets. 

The article goes on to say

The force will be known as the New Zealand Army Force, Far East Land Forces. The force is to be drawn mainly from new enlistments…volunteers will have the chance of the normal five years regular engagement of three years…applications will be accepted from men between the ages of 21 and 35, with preference given to single men under 30. 20 year olds would be accepted providing they had their parents’ consent’’ (Rotorua Post, 1957)

In August of 1957 a photograph was published of all the Rotorua men who were leaving by bus for Papakura that day, later on page 6 the men were named.  Those men were D. Trueman, K. McGregor, G. Midwood, N. R. Mackay, V. Ratana, F. Eruini, D. Rogers, F. Clarke, R, Te Kiri, A. Williams, M. Curtis, D. Unsworth and P. Morehu’

Others in the photograph could be from Atiamuri: B. Slade, S. Kopa, R. Cassidy and G. Cassidy

Taupo: G.H. Grant.  Wairakei: G. Muller, Murupara: M. Tipoki, Mangakino: B. Middleton and R. Lloyd (Rotorua Post, 1957)

Recruits were given basic training at Waiouru, Burnham and Papakura, the central North Island recruits were sent to Papakura before being flown to Malaya from Auckland.

It was to turn into a long drawn out ‘confrontation’ and in October of 1959, the Christchurch Press reported that ‘As the Malayan emergency drags through its twelfth year, members of the RNZAF stationed in Singapore are still helping the Commonwealth effort to eliminate the remaining terrorists in the Malayan jungle’.  The RNZAF continued to deliver aid to the forces on the ground throughout the final drawn out year.

The Rotorua men all returned home, some in time for Christmas in December of 1959 the rest by early 1960. One Rotorua soldier returned with an English wife, she had been a dentist at the Kuala Lumpur military hospital and six other soldiers married Malayan girls. (Rotorua Post, 1959)

Those who returned had harrowing stories and some that have never been told.

Other New Zealand peacekeeping forces continued to be posted to Malaya between the years 1960-1964.

Indonesia / Borneo c.1962-1966

Fighting over territory in Borneo had long been a problem for all involved, namely Britain, The Netherlands, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia and in the middle of it all the Dayaks who are the indigenous people.

Border skirmishes continued between Malaya and Indonesia and North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore and  the Indonesians carried out armed incursions and acts of subversion and sabotage, including bombings, to destabilise the federation. Singapore experienced a series of bombing incidents, which killed seven people and injured 50 others. (

 British and Commonwealth forces including Australians supported Malaysia. At stake was the future of the former British possessions, Sabah and Sarawak, which bordered Indonesia's provinces on Borneo. (

This new dispute was named a ‘confrontation’ beginning in 1963 it finally ceased when on 11 August 1966 when a peace treaty was signed in Bangkok.  New Zealand had not sent soldiers until 1 February 1965, after a request from the Malaysians. A limited SAS detachment and two former Royal Navy minesweepers, renamed HMNZS Hickleton and Santon were to join the frigate HMNZS Taranaki patrolling in the Malacca Strait.

Troops and air force pilots were deployed, approximately 28 Rotorua men served in Borneo.

New Zealand’s involvement in this complex area of the world was ended after the treaty was signed, the news articles of the day mention that they should be home by November of 1966.

Photo by Alison, courtesy of Kete Rotorua

Vietnam War 1961-1975

New Zealand’s involvement began in April 1962 when capital and civil technical assistance and in 1963 a civilian surgical team arrived in Vietnam and NZ’s contribution continued in providing aid.   

The first New Zealand troops into action were the gunners of 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery. On 16 July 1965, they fired their first shells near Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City).  New Zealand came under renewed pressure from US President Johnson to expand its commitment in Vietnam. In 1967, NZ sent two infantry companies – V and W – from the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in Malaysia, along with a tri-service medical team – 1st New Zealand Services Medical Team. A Special Air Service (SAS) troop arrived the following year. 

NZ forces were involved in artillery offensives, cordon and search patrols, intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions around Phuoc Tuy province. New Zealand gunners were one of three field artillery batteries comprising part of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF). Kiwi infantrymen made up two of the Anzac Battalion’s five company-sized units. A 26-man New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) troop completed the Australian SAS squadron at Nui Dat. (

'Vietnam War map', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 15-Sep-2014

Here is some local information regarding men who enlisted in Rotorua:

Gunner Alan Scott only Rotorua man to join V-Force (Rotorua Daily Post, 1965) 

Following this in 1967 when New Zealand agreed to send more troops many more young men from this district enlisted.

Enlisting at the Rotorua sub-office was the only option for men from the Bay of Plenty towns like Edgecumbe, Murupara and just to the south from Taupo and Turangi, Mangakino etc.  also it is documented that the Infantry battalion was replaced from Malaysia after serving 1 year there. 

New Zealand's commitment peaked at just over 500 troops in 1968. The last Kiwis left South Vietnam in December 1972. The last American troops left the following year. By the time the war was finally over, at the fall of Saigon in April 1975, more than three and a half million people had died. (North & South. May 2018, Issue 386, p67-81)

Polynesian Protest 1972, note two Bay of Plenty identities Tame Iti and John Ohia,
Photograph courtesy of John Miller

How this controversial war affected Rotorua residents is covered in the Rotorua Daily Post from 1965-1972, also mentioned are the names of the young men who enlisted and came home changed forever and those who did not return. 

See also

Rotorua men and women have been involved in many other horrific wars since this time and continue to serve our country wherever they are needed.


1.               Stowers, R. (2002). Rough riders at war. R. Stowers.

Press. (1949, February 4). South Korea invaded: 1000 Soviet-trained troops. Press.

Press. (1950, June 26). State of war in Korea: northern armies invade south. Press.

Rotorua Post. (1955, May 21).  M-force men on final leave. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1957, June 18). Recruiting will start tomorrow for Malaya Battalion. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1957, June 18). K-Force men to be home in August. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1957, June 19). FN rifle will be weapon of new Malaya force. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1957, August 1). They’re in the army now. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1957, August 1). Malaya Force men leave for Papakura. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1959, Dec 17). Rotorua men would be happy to go back to Malaya. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1965, June 6). N.Z. Battery gets ‘go ahead’. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1969, May 26). [Untitled photograph]. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1970, June 20). Rotorua soldier suffers wounds. Rotorua Post.

Rotorua Post. (1970, November 2). Rotorua soldier injured. Rotorua Post.

Te Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2021). Main body of Jayforce lands in Japan. Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Te Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2018) South African War, 1899-1902. Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Te Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2020). New Zealand in the Korean War. Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Te Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2021). NZ and the Malayan Emergency. Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Rotorua Post. (1959, Dec 17). Rotorua men would be happy to be back in Malaya. Rotorua Post.

Te Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. (2021). NZ and Confrontation in Borneo. Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

HistorySG. (2014). Konfrontasi (Confrontation) ends - Singapore History.

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2021), The Indonesian Confrontation 1962 to 1966.

Te Pae Wānanga, Research and Publishing Team. Vietnam War. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 

Ministry for Culture and Heritage. On operations |, New Zealand and the Vietnam War

Stanley, B. (2018). Brothers in arms. North & South.