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Tuini Ngawai and Te Hokowhitu a Tū concert group

Tauira Takurua talks about Te Hokowhitu a Tū concert group and the role Tuini Ngawai played in supporting Apirana Ngata, encouraging men to join the 28th Māori Battalion.


In the year 1939, Great Britain asked New Zealand to enter the war alongside her to support her in the fight against Germany, and our Government agreed.

In the month of October, Apirana Ngata and other Māori Members of Parliament called for the establishment of a dedicated Māori fighting force. The Government agreed, and the 28th Māori Battalion was formed.

At that time, Sir Apirana Ngata was the pre-eminent Māori leader. That is why he called the Māori people to take up the cause on the side of the King, King George, and go off to fight. During that great drive to rouse the people in support, Nanny Tuini travelled alongside him.

 Her role was to support Sir Apirana Ngata in the drive to recruit soldiers, the main focus of the period. The task was to convince mothers and the iwi of the whole country to allow their sons to go away overseas to fight. That was the role of Nanny Tuini, to both entertain and calm people's anxieties, as they considered the extremely serious request that Sir Apirana was making. When Apirana Ngata went to his gatherings, Nanny Tuini would be there alongside him, in support, urging on the soldiers to come forth, to be brave –if you do decide to go overseas, then be strong, and make sure you come home alive.