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THE MEETING OF THE MAORIS, Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLIII, Issue 13957, 1 April 1916
THE MEETING OF THE MAORIS
A LETTER FROM LIEUT. HENARE KOHERE TO HIS PEOPLE. The Rev. R. T. Kohere has received tho following letters, from his brother, Lieut. Henare Kohere :— .Moascar. Ismailia. Sunday, Jan. 23, 1916. We are now encamped at Ismailia. We left Zoitoun last Wednesday. We were met a-b the railway station by Lieut. Houkamau Stainton, of the first contingent, who told us that the survivors of the first contingent- were goin^ io welcome us m real Maori fashion. When we neared ,the camp we could, hear piercing the air the familiar Maori welcome. This handful of Maoris were surrounded by thousands of pakeha- troops.' It was all too pathetic. There m front of the masses of troops a thin dusky line, remnants of tho brave 500 .that left the shores of New Zealand a year ago. They gave us a rattling' haka. My eye* naturally ran along the line of warriors to single, out Ta-whai, and there he was right m the front row alongside Wiriwiri They looked a mere handful and how many of them are sleeping their last sleep on the slopes of Gallipoli. The performers were mostly of the Arawa tribe for the Ngatiporou section was very much reduced m number. Dr Rangihiroa- gave us the first speech of welcome, then followed Wepiha. I responded on behalf of the second contingent. I commenced by singing: — "E tc Ope tuatahi, c kore rawa c mulu mai Te aroha i, a au c Me tangi kau atu ki te roa o lhipi c, 'Kei te reti to tinana Mo te riri mo te iwi. aue auo c tc tail. The boys joined m and sang this song fully but softly, and the effect was I splendid. We had to repeat it. I could see while we were singing; that ! the survivors were visibly affected. Then Brigadier-General Johnston said a few ' words of welcome to us. This over, my [ party lined un while the survivors ca"me • forward to shake hands and rub noses with us«. It was lovely to cntch hold of Tawhai m real flesh and bones, with his skin whole, too. Then came along Enoka, Teohikareti. Eru and Rutene. i This was a red-letter day for us all — the meeting of the Maoris on the historic land of Egypt. After an hour of happy intercourse we were again split up amongst the pakeha ti*oops, my party joining the Canterbury. Our company is XUf. We met again m the evening. 'At 10.30 Tawhai and I went to the town a.nd what hours of talk we had. He had to yo to the (town, as he was- ui'-ka* , «'oni"-r.'*l for that- night. ISo vre have -it last met and reorganised. Al! our u. co.'s were disrated m order to make room for the n.el's from the first contingent. I like the Canterbury fellows, 'both men and officers — they show very trreat interest m us. Don't worry about u>t : we are under very able and war-experienced men. The "Ngatiporous. havi been joined with the Arawas, and Stainton, Walker and myself are the Maori officers. The two former have, bo'.h been mentioned m desnatches and are distinguished fellows. This morning we had a combined -Maori service and General Godley was present. At the conclusion of the service he-spoke to the survivors of the first- contingent and complimented, them on their work m Gallipoli. He actually said the Maoris were the finest soldiers who fought m the Gallipoli campaign. Their were hrnve and intelligent. It waa .that that led him to split up v the Maoris And nut tbem with the pakehas that thev- might see and learn as much as nossible, It. -is rumored here we skill be <Yoiinr to the — — front. Think of it. So 1 have found Tawhai at last. He is writing on my bed. He is looking better than T have ever seen him. So we have met: so we shall all meet again. Another' letter from Lieut. Kohere: — Moascar Camp, Ismailia, Egypt, January 31, xyi6. I ■a o '-', your letters to-niglit — yours and the children's. 1 need not teil you how glad I was to get .them — they came an refreshment, at the end of a loute inarch of twenty miles through soft sand. lam pleased to hear all is well at homo. \\ c are also well, both of the lirs* and seuond contingents. \Ye are having a good time m spite of the hard, work the boys are put to. Tawhai (of .'the first contingent) is full of tales of the fighting .they had, of narrow escapes, of sutterings thiougli want of food and water, of the bitterly cold nights on the Peninsula, and L of the great waste of precious lives m fighting agaiusA sudh — as he says — "miserable looking creatures" like the Turks. Many fine boys both from New Zealand and Australia lost their lives m lighting against pigs like the Turks. This is tlie great regret of the remnants of tho first boys. 1 generally write on Sundays but 1 spent yesterday driving about with Tawhai m a niotor car. How delighted I wa«*'tu meet him safe and sound, and how delighted he was too to meet one of his own who had recently come from home. He often comes tt> my tent for a cup of tea and to relate to me his 'experiences. Rutene is also very well. By the way Rutene has - met Lord Kitchener and shaken bauds with him. The Hereto boys are all well. Ohikareti has, wonderful stories to tell and ho tells them well. During the two big fights they had the boys became scattered, for both attacks were made at night time, and at daylight when entrenched they would go about looking for itheir mates to find out who were missing and who Mere not. The survivors^ of the first contingent are very loyal to one another. I would like to take a photo of them to send home to their friends. Last Saturday the New Zealand Mounted Brigade passed here on their way to tlie other side of the Canal. They marched four abreast, and we thought the train of men -was not coming to an end — The train must have been close on to eight miles-. We, the officers of the Canterbury Battalion, played a football match the same day against the Wellington Battalion. We beat them by 10 points to 4; both Lieut. Stainton and I each scored a try. There are at present six warships anchored at Ismailia. They look formidable. To-morrow, our team plays a match against a team, of officers from H.M.C- Implacable. Our camp indulges very much m tho old game of football — it is a part of our training. We never now feel anything after a strenuous game of football ; you see we aro very tough, not ilabby as a,t home. Wo are quite sick now of watching aircrafts of all descriptions. I have seen as many as six m tho air, buzzing along at a tremendous rate. Their station is two miles distant from here. I have visited tho station, and have seen aeroplanes, both start and alight. It is very interesting indeed. Lord Luca-s is head of the air corps. Last Thursday two flew 300 miles beyond the Canal and were fired at by Turkish patrols. We were waiting for the Turks to attack the Canal, but I have my doubts they they will ever come. The whole length of the Canal is protected by soldiers. 'It has not yet been definitely determined -whether the N.Z. Infantry Brigade is- to remain here or go to , but I think the Mounted Brigade will have to stick to the Canal. Don't bo concerned if we do go ,to ; it won't he such a dreadful hole as Gallipoli has been. The boys are feeling excited over the prospect of going. The- Maoris have been classed amongst the best fighting peoples of the world and so there is not much chance of our being relegated to garrison duties. Both pakeha and Maori are eagerly looking forward to closing m with the enemy m order to wipe out the Gallipoli score. It is admitted on all hands, both by men and officers, that the Maoris as a unit fought better than any other units on the Peninsula. This is an admission that should make us both proud and humble. The pakeha officers of our battalion are very good to me. Sitainton, William Walker (both of the first contingent) and I ' are the only Maori officers m this battalion. Tawhai has not changed — it is the same old Tawhai, jolly, and unconcerned. He talks of the slaughter m Gallipoli as though it was a pig hunt. Of course
' he feels the lobs of some of his mates. Don't let mother worry about vs — we are all right. We are m the hands of Providence. The •temptations) of this land are strong, and 1 wonder if the temptations m Franco are worse. Enoka is very well, Peta- is convalescent m Cairo, Pekama is still at Zeitoun. I have an idea Pekama will be put m the Reserve Brigade stationed at Zeitoun. Tlie last post has just sounded, and I must turn m. It is now 10 o'clock on Monday night here, 7 m the morning of Tucsdy with you. I am battalion orderly officer for to-morrow. Good-bye.
THE MEETING OF THE MAORIS, Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLIII, Issue 13957, 1 April 1916
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