Monday, March 19, 2007

In praise of heroism...

The deeds and the valour of the Maori Battalions during WW1 and WW2 are legendary. Among the more prominent is that of Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi.
Distinguished World War II hero Haane Manahi was born in Rotorua in 1913. In his pre-war years Haane was a champion swimmer, a skill he took with him when he joined the 28th Maori Battalion in 1939. In 1941 he was a member of the New Zealand team that performed with distinction at the Services Meeting in Egypt.

Haane Manahi is recalled with awe for his exploits on Takrouna, the rocky outcrop in Tunisia, where in April 1943 he led a platoon of men up the heavily fortified 300 metre citadel.

Fighting through heavy machine gun and mortar fire, he made the journey up the outcrop twice over three arduous days. The battle was won by Allied Forces on April 23rd, 1943, leaving one more task for Haane: the removal of the dead and wounded. So outstanding were his efforts that he was awarded an immediate Distinguished Conduct Medal - after recommendations that he be awarded a Victoria Cross were rejected. Haane Manahi was killed in a car accident in 1986. Efforts to redress the glaring injustice of the Takrouna award continue today.

Sergeant Haane Manahi, DCM, hero of Takrouna, Tunisia April 1943
Image courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library & Rotorua Museum

Those efforts came to fruition this past weekend.

This is the one photo I have been able to find that shows Takrouna Ridge at (about) the time of WW2.

From Phil Goff, Minister of Defence...
The Queen, however asked Sir Robin to convey Her personal wish that careful thought be given to alternative ways in which further due recognition could be given to Lance Sergeant Manahi's gallantry and the broader aspects of the actions of Lance Sergeant Manahi as a representative of Te Arawa.

The Queen also expressed her wish that any resulting initiative should follow from close consultation with Te Arawa and the Manahi VC Committee and that she might personally be associated with it.

That consultation has taken place, and the Government worked with Te Arawa, the Manahi VC Committee and the Palace on how we could best, honour Haane Manahi for his gallantry.

The form of that recognition, as agreed between all parties, has been inspired by the famous refrain 'for God!, for King! and for Country!' from the marching song of the 28th (Maori) Battalion.

"For God will be marked by the presentation through the Palace of an altar cloth destined for St Faith's Church, adjacent to the burial place of Haane Manahi and many of his fellow soldiers.

'For King' will take the form of a letter from The Queen, acknowledging the gallantry of Haane Manahi, to be framed and hung in the Tamatekapua Meeting House alongside photographs of Haane Manahi and The Queen.

'For Country' will be represented by a sword to be gifted on permanent loan to Te Arawa by the Queen.

Te Arawa will in turn present the sword to the Chief of Defence Force along with a patu in memory of Haane Manahi.

The sword will be displayed in the office of the Chief of Defence Force. The patu will be worn, on appropriate occasions as part of the dress of the Chief of Defence Force. These gifts will be a tangible link between Haane Manahi, The Queen, Te Arawa and all serving members of the Defence Force.

No comments: