Weekly Review No. 112
National Film Unit, 1943
Here today at Whakarua Park, Ruatoria, is one of the greatest Māori assemblies of the century. Thousands gather for the presentation, to Mr. and Mrs. Hāmuera Ngārimu, of the Victoria Cross won by their son, Lieutenant Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu.
The five and a half hour ceremony is a pattern of dance and song, lament and exultation.
To the gathering come the old and the young. For the old, there are tribal memories to be lived again. Tales to be told again. And for all, a new memory to be treasured.
Today is proof that the warrior spirit still lives.
Hosts for the ceremony are the Ngāti Porou, with Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and associated tribes. Their guests have come from almost every native settlement in New Zealand and, by tradition, they must be given entertainment and food.
For days, guests have arrived at the marae and every pā in the district has sent food to be cooked in a great hāngī of hot stones.
The rain came too, at times drenching rain, which threatened a postponement but occasional sunshine saved the day.
The rain squalls could not dampen the spirit of this gathering in honour of a hero, for here was an enthusiasm that had not been seen since the war took the young men away from the pā(s).
While the sun shines, more wood can be cut for the fires and more food can be prepared. There are many to eat it.
8,000 Māori(s) and Pākehā(s) have come to the ceremony including men of the Māori Battalion from Rotorua, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, the South Island, and 300 school children from all over New Zealand.
The billies are left to boil while the songs and dances go on. Tribe follows tribe on the stage, each making their contribution.
In spite of the rain, in every marae, the traditional welcome to guests is given. And food is prepared, the rain cannot lessen the heat of the ovens, nor altogether extinguish the fires.
The audience is prepared.
According to East Coast etiquette, women have the right to speak on ceremonial occasions.
An aunt of Lieutenant Ngārimu asserts that right.
Her speech is translated.
[indistinct voice over loudspeaker]
Children of the Māori race make their contribution too.
Once, Te Moana Ngārimu was a pupil of a native school before going on to Te Aute College.
Throughout the day rain squalls continue but the rhythm of the songs and dances overcomes the weather.
In the songs and haka(s) of this ceremony is a tribal expression of exultation.
Pride in the deeds of one man who, by his valour, exemplified the battle skill of his battalion.
Today, tribal differences and old quarrels have been set aside.
Lieutenant Ngārimu is regarded as belonging not to one tribe but to the whole Māori people.
The ceremony also honours other individual members of the Māori Battalion as well as Lieutenant Ngārimu.
Decorations were presented to Lieutenant Colonels C. M. Bennett, F. Baker, and G. F. Bertrand, to Warrant Officer M. T. McRae, to Major Royal, to Captain W. Poata, and Lieutenant J. P. Tikao Barrett, who received them in person.
But to receive, from his Excellency the Governor General, the Victoria Cross, won by their son, come Mr and Mrs Hāmuera Ngārimu.
The decoration won by Lieutenant Ngārimu, at Tebaga Gap in Tunisia on March 26th, is handed to his father.
In making this award, His Majesty the King has said that he honours not only Lieutenant Ngārimu, but also his battalion and the whole of New Zealand.
After the ceremony, Mr Ngārimu thanks the Māori people and the people of New Zealand for the honour.
Kia ora e ngā iwi e huihui mai nei te whakanui te rā ō Moananui-a-Kiwa.
Mrs Ngārimu and I wish that Moana could be here to see the tribute paid to us, and to all the Māori people, because of what he did to win the Victoria Cross. He loved this country so well that he was glad to fight for it. We regret that he is not here, personally, to receive the honours bestowed upon him today.
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