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Battle at Takrouna

Geoffrey Manahi explains who Haane Manahi is, what happened at Takrouna, and the reason for Haane Manahi’s success that led to his nomination for the Victoria Cross.


Haane Te Rauawa Manahi was one of the warriors of the iwi of Te Arawa. At the beginning of the Second World War, Manahi went off to fight in the 28th Māori Battalion.

My thoughts return to the time my father Haane fought at the place known as Takrouna, in Tunisia. At that time, the 28th Māori Battalion was camped at the base of the hill at Takrouna, on top of the hill were 400 Germans and Italians, while at the bottom, the Māori side thought they could capture the hill.

The order was given to lay siege in order to take this important landmark of Takrouna. Because of the intense mortar bombardment and withering small arms fire, progress was difficult and dangerous, and after the first assault, there were only 10 left in Manahi’s platoon. There had been around 30 at the start.

At that time, according to the account given by my father, Te Makawe appeared. Te Makawe is a spirit guide belonging to this people of Ngāti Whakaue. When my father saw that spirit guide in the heavens, it was in the form of a rainbow. The spirit guide at the time was leading my father and the others of the 28th Māori Battalion through the minefield to the mountain. Te Makawe led them on so they could make the right approach, in order to get up on the mountain to the place where the Germans and Italians were.

When the warriors of the 28th Māori Battalion B company came back here to Tamatekapua marae (in Rotorua), my father went up on to the hill behind, to Pukeroa. That is the dwelling place for the guardian Te Makawe, where he stands – a tree.

Then my father said his prayers. It was because of Te Makawe that my father survived the Second World War.