Ko Te Reo ote Hokowhitu-a-Tu te niureta mō ngā hōia o Te Hokowhitu a Tū, he mea ētita nā Rangipouri Reihana Taraua Marumaru (1887 - 1939) o Ngāti Apa. He uri a Marumaru nō tētahi whānau rongonui nō Ngāti Apa, nō Parewanui, tata ki Ōhinepuhiawe, ā, he kaiwhakamāori whai raihana. He kaihaina ia nō tētahi tarikarāmu i tukua ki te kāwanatanga i te marama o Ākuhata 1914 e whakaatu ana i te hiahia o Ngāti Apa ki te tāpae i ā rātou mahi hei hōia mō te Emepaea. Nō te Ākuhata 1917 i wehe atu ai ia i Aotearoa ki Ūropi hei mema o ngā taituarā o Whanganui me te Tai Hauāuru mō te Hokowhitu ā Tū i Pēpuere 1918.
I tīmata te Hokowhitu i raro i te ingoa te Native Contingent, te ope Māori tuatahi rawa kia whawhai i te Pakanga tuatahi o Te Ao. Ka uru tōna 500 tūao ki te ope, ā, i huihui rātou i Tāmakimakaurau i te marama o Oketopa 1914. I wehe atu rātou i Aotearoa i te 14 Pēpuere 1915. I muri i te noho i Māta mō te wā poto, ka pakanga rātou ki Karipori. I muri i Karipori, ka whakakotahitia ngā mōrehu o taua pakanga hei ope pioneer, i te taha o ngā mōrehu o te Otago Mounted Rifles. Ko tēnei mea te ope pioneer he ope e hora ana i ngā mahi taumaha hei tautoko i ngā mahi mātua mō te pakanga, pēnei i te hanga huarahi, i ngā rerewē, i te kari awakeri, hāunga ia te whawhai tūturu. Ahakoa rā, ka haere ēnei mahi katoa i te pae o te pakanga, ā, i mahi te Ope Pioneer Māori i te Pae ki te Uru i Wīwī me Pehiamu.
Nō te taenga ki Ākuhata 1917 kua eke ngā tauituarā Māori hei whakakī i te ope, ā, nō te 1 Hepetema 1917 ka noho ko te ope te wāhanga Māori katoa tuatahi ‑ i kīa rā ko te New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion. Tōna ingoa Māori rongonui ko - “Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū” (whitu tekau tōpū nō Tū-mata-uenga) - ā, i takea mai te ingoa i te rangatira o Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, i a Wī Pere, te kaumātua o te ope tuatahi o Te Tai Rāwhiti, nāna i tapa te ope ki taua ingoa. Te taenga ki te mutunga o te pakanga, 336 ngā tāngata kua mate rawa, ā, 700 kua taotū.
I te mutunga o te pakanga, te tikanga ka tonoa te ope kia haere hei wāhanga mō te taumāihi i te awa o Rhine, heoi anō i te mutunga kāore i pīrangitia e ngā āpiha o Ingarangi, nā te mea i kīa te ope he ‘native troops’. I tonoa te ope kia hoki ki te kāinga, ā, i wehe mai ki Aotearoa i te marama o Māehe 1919. I pōwhiritia rātou ki ngā hui maha puta noa i Aotearoa, tae atu ki te marae o Pūtiki i Whanganui.
Te taenga ki te kāinga ka ākina e Marumaru kia tīmataria he rōpū hei whakatairanga i te oranga o ngā hōia Māori kua hoki ki te kāinga. I mōhiotia tēnei rōpū ko te Wanganui Maori Returned Soldiers Union. I takea mai te hiahia mō tētahi rōpū motuhake mō ngā mōrehu Māori o te whawhai i te whakaaro, ahakoa i whawhai tahi a ngāi Māori i te taha o te Pākehā i tāwāhi, kāti nō te hokinga mai i aukatia i ngā mea maha. Tērā ētahi ongaonga ā-wairua i ētahi rohe - ā, i te marama o Mei 1919, e toru ngā hōia i whakakāhoretia i roto i te Rutland Hotel, ā, nō te marama o Hūrae ka tīmata tētahi whawhai i waho i te Rutland, i te whakakāhoretanga o tētahi Māori kia tomo ki roto.
I tua atu i te āwhina i te whakatūranga o te Wanganui Maori Returned Soldiers Union, i tīmataria e Marumaru Te Reo ote Hokowhitu-a-Tu. I whakaputaina i Tāmakimakaurau e Wilson and Horton, heoi anō ka kitea te whakaputanga tuatahi i te 15 Noema 1919. E toru noa iho ngā putanga i kitea, ā, ko te mea whakamutunga i puta i te 15 Hanuere 1920. Ehara i te mea he niureta noa iho tēnei mō te pakanga, hei tūhono rānei i ngā hoa o tau kē, heoi anō, kei roto i te niureta ētahi tuhinga mō te hoko whenua, mō te pōtitanga Pāremata, ā, ka kitea i roto ngā āwangawanga o Marumaru mō te iwi Māori i Aotearoa i ngā rā kei mua i te aroaro.
Te Reo ote Hokowhitu-a-Tu was a newsletter for veterans of the Māori Pioneer Battalion, edited by Rangipouri Reihana Taraua Marumaru (1887 - 1939) of Ngāti Apa. Marumaru was from a well-known Ngāti Apa whānau and a farmer at Parewanui, near Bulls, as well as a licensed interpreter. He had been the signatory to a telegram sent to the government in August 1914 expressing Ngāti Apa’s desire to offer their services in defence of the Empire. He joined up in August 1917 and left New Zealand for Europe as part of the Wanganui and West Coast reinforcements to the Māori Battalion in February 1918.
The Māori Pioneer Battalion began as the Native Contingent, the first Māori unit to fight in World War I. The Contingent was made up of 500 volunteers, who came together in Auckland in October 1914. They sailed from New Zealand on 14 February 1915. After serving briefly on Malta, they then fought at Gallipoli. After Gallipoli the men that were left were reformed into a pioneer battalion, along with the remnants of the Otago Mounted Rifles. A pioneer battalion is one that provides skilled labour for essential tasks such as building roads and railways, or trench digging rather than fighting. However this work often takes place on the front line and the Māori Pioneer Battalion served on the Western Front in both France and Belgium.
By August 1917 there were enough Māori reinforcements to fill the battalion and so on 1 September 1917 it became the first fully Māori unit ‑ the New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion. The other name the Battalion was known by - “Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū” (the seventy twice-told warriors of the war god Tū) - came from Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki chief Wī Pere, the kaumātua of the original East Coast-Gisborne contingent. Although a pioneer battalion they were often near the front line and by the end of the war, 336 men had been killed and over 700 wounded.
At the end of the war the battalion were going to become part of the Rhine garrison but in the end the British high command decided not to use ‘native troops’. The Māori Pioneer Battalion was sent home, sailing for New Zealand in March 1919. They were welcomed back with hui throughout New Zealand, including at Pūtiki marae at Wanganui.
Once home Marumaru pushed for a society to be started to promote the welfare of the returned Māori soldiers. This became the Wanganui Maori Returned Soldiers Union. The need for a separate organisation for returned Māori soldiers seems to have developed out of the realisation that although Māori had fought alongside Europeans overseas, back in New Zealand Māori still were excluded from many things. Locally there were tensions - in May 1919, three Māori returned soldiers had been refused service at the Rutland Hotel and in July a fight started outside the Rutland when another Māori returned soldier was refused entry.
As well as being involved in the establishment of the Wanganui Maori Returned Soldiers Union, Marumaru started up Te Reo ote Hokowhitu-a-Tu. Published in Auckland by Wilson and Horton, the first issue came out on 15 Noema (November) 1919. Only three issues were ever published, with the last issue being 15 Hanuere (January) 1920. Not just a newsletter to reminiscence about the war or to connect with past comrades, it contained articles on land sales and parliamentary elections and reflected Marumaru’s concerns about the future of Māori in New Zealand.
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