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Downgrading of Haane Manahi’s Victoria Cross

Geoffrey Manahi explains how his father’s Victoria Cross nomination was downgraded to a Distinguished Conduct Medal.


At the Battle of Takrouna, the prowess and fighting spirit of these few soldiers was seen as an inspiring phenomenon for the main body of the army. After the battle, Manahi was recommended for the Victoria Cross.

These are all the medals of the Army, and this one is the Victoria Cross. Only three weeks after the award of the Cross to Ngārimu, our father Haane was recommended for this medal by his superiors, but he was awarded the DCM instead.

There was no explanation why this was, but it was thought that the English officers did not want to give medals to colonial people, and it was thought perhaps racism was in the decision, with people thinking perhaps that the medal's significance might be diminished by being given to a Māori.

I remember when my father was alive, my Dad, I asked, “Dad, what do you really think about that VC?”

“Oh, who cares about the VC, forget it. There were many many men in the 28th Māori Battalion who could easily have won that Pākehā medal. Many of them died in the fire of battle.” That was his real thought, “Who cares about the VC, forget it.” But he was an extremely humble character, “Forget about the VC.” The most important thing to him was his family, fishing, his wife – those were the important things in life to my father. The VC was not a major issue at all.

These are the medals that our father Haane won hanging on the wall, on that wall there. Those medals came back from Waiouru to this, our home, and were placed in the RSA, and the medal in the middle beside the picture is the DCM.

 Feelings of affection and pain burned on for Te Arawa after the disrespect shown by England to them. The iwi pushed for full recognition of the bravery of Manahi. Consequently, they established the Victoria Cross Committee to pursue the case of the Victoria Cross for Manahi, for him to receive the highest honour for his deeds in World War Two.