Rongo Toa is a series commemorating and celebrating the waiata of the 28th Māori Battalion.

Heeni Brown (Te Arawa, Te Aupōuri) and Te Wehi Preston (Mataatua, Te Arawa) uncover the stories behind the songs that have become part of our history. Like Kua Rongorongo written by master composer Kōhine Whakarua Ponika (Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou) to farewell the troops when she was just 18 and March to Victory by ​​Anania Amohau (Te Arawa), which became the soldiers’ anthem on the battlefield. 

We are the descendants of this era who composed these waiata as moral boosters through these turbulent times,” says Heeni. 

The Māori Battalion was established in 1939 as part of New Zealand’s fighting force in WWII. In total, almost 3,600 men served overseas with the Māori Battalion during the war. Of these, 649 died, 1,712 were wounded and 237 were prisoners of war. 

Lieutenant-General Bernard Freyberg said, “No infantry battalion had a more distinguished record, or saw more fighting, or, alas, had such heavy casualties as the Māori Battalion.”

Tuia i runga, tuia i raro, tuia i roto, tuia i waho, ka rongo te pō, ka rongo te ao.  Koutou e ngā mātua, e ngā tīpuna o te pō, maranga mai. Maranga mai ki tēnei te rā whakanui i a koutou.

Bind above, bind below, unite from within, unify the outer, the night listens, the day listens. To our seniors, to our ancestors who reside in the night, arise.  Arise on this day of commemorating you all.

Rongo Toa is produced by Creative Nātives and Hāni Dread. Watch all the songs, and hear the stories behind them here: 

Aue E Ihu

E te Hokowhitu a Tū

Ka Rū, Ka Rū 

Kua Rongorongo

March to Victory


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