Thursday, 12 June 2014

Remembering tūpuna who served in the First World War

During the First World War, over 2,000 Māori served under the Native Contingent and the Māori Pioneer Battalion. Conscription of Māori did not take place until 1917, prior to this date, Māori involvement was purely voluntary.

Changes put in place in late 1915/early 1916 led to the disestablishment of the Native Contingent and the incorporation of Māori soldiers into the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, which is more commonly known as the Māori Pioneer Battalion.

Ref: Herman John Schmidt, three privates including Pitama probably of the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion, no location, c. 1915/1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-P917
The pioneers were tasked with engineering tasks, digging trenches, building roads, railways. This was hard and dangerous work, which often took place under fire.

Pacific Islanders including Cook Islanders and Niueans also served during the First World War. The Niuean contingent and the 1st Contingent of Cook Islanders provided reinforcements for the Māori Pioneer Battalion in Egypt and subsequently in France. The 2nd and 3rd Cook contingents, known as the Rarotongan Company, served with the British  Sinai and Palestine.

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, Maori and Niuean troops at Narrow Neck beach, Auckland, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A14559
If you want to find out more about Māori soldiers and their involvement and sacrifice during the First World War, you can browse the library's selection of heritage resources. The library's Our boys guide is also a great for information about both Māori and Pacific Islands soldiers in the First World War.

The library also holds around 4,500 Herman John Schmidt negatives depicting WWI soldier portrait, which is a particularly valuable resource. All images are searchable using the Heritage Images database. To search for these images, all you need to do is enter Schmidt into the search box of the database. To refine your search, use the Advanced Search option and simply enter Schmidt into the Photographer/Publisher search box and then soldiers into the Subjects search box and click on Advanced Search. If you know the person's name, you can simply enter this into the main keywords search box.

Leaving for war:
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, Corporal Aperahama Rupene Tuoro leaving for war, no location, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19160406-46-5
Ref: Herman Schmidt, Private Percy Rameka, 1916, Auckland, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-R2108
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, Bugler Warnock Pake Heka, 5th Maori Contingent, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-H591
Leaving the NZ training camps:

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, the Pioneer Maori Battalion at the NZ Camp in Zeitoun before their departure to Malta, 1915, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19150527-43-5

Pacific Island soldiers:

Ref: Herman John Schmidt, Nurse Nobbs and Niuean soldiers, Mountain Road, Epsom, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections,  31-WP8025
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, Niuean troops at the Narrow Neck camp, Auckland, 1915, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A14272
Welcome for the soldiers returning to Aotearoa/NZ:

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, the Maori Battalion arrives home, Queen St, Auckland, 1919, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19190410-34-2
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, ready to welcome home the returned Maori Battalion at the Auckland Domain, 1919, Sir George Grey Special Collections, AWNS-19190410-35-2
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, welcoming the returned Pioneer Maori Battalion at the Auckland Domain, 1919, Sir George Grey Special Collections, AWNS-19190410-31-1
The returned soldiers:
Ref: Herman Schmidt, Lieutenant Awarua of the Maori Pioneer Battalion, 1920, no location, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-A4028
Ref: Herman Schmidt, Private Flanton of the Maori Contingent, Maori Pioneer Battalion, 1917, no location, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-F3347
Remembering tūpuna - tangihanga and memorials:

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, funeral for a returned Maori soldier, Hone Raponi, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19160518-37-2
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, burial of a Maori soldier at Hornchurch, England, 1918, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19180606-35-1
Ref: Frederick George Radcliffe, monument (in foreground) to Maori soldiers, including those who served in the First World War, Wairoa, N.Z. Tourist Series, 3052, no date, Sir George Grey Special Collections, 35-R1535
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, monument at Tokaanu to the memory of Turi Wharepapa, 1921, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19210217-34-4
Author: Natasha Barrett (NB)

3 comments:

  1. I'm sure that there's an interesting story about how a photographer called Herman Schmidt managed to run a business in NZ during the First World War?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Keith Giles, Photograph Librarian23 June 2014 at 11:43

    Yes there is. I've written a short article "Schmidt Studios and anti-German sentiment in New Zealand during WW1" which should appear in a commemorative booklet about the war published by the Panmure Branch of the NZ Society of Genealogists later this year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for your comment and for raising this topic - great to see that there is indeed a Schmidt article with further information.

    ReplyDelete

Kia ora! Please leave your comment below.