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Tuahiwi Māori Home Guard

Tuahiwi Home Guard copy v2
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Lachy Paterson
13 October, 2019

The photograph above shows the first parade of the Tuahiwi Home Guard on 19 December 1940.[1]  Was it the first Māori Home Guard Unit to be established?  This was certainly what The Press thought.


‘The unit is the first native Home Guard with its own command to be formed in the South Island, and it is believed to be the first in New Zealand. More than 30 men from the district have joined the unit, and a good muster attended the parade last evening.’[2]


The members ranged from young men to ‘an old man of 70 years was among those who paraded’ that evening.[2]  The event was capped off with a performance of the Pipiwharauroa concert party, a local Māori group organised by Te Aritaua Pitama.


The primary organiser for the Home Guard appears to have been John Henry Kingi, of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, who was a veteran of the First World War.  He was the President of the Ngati-Otautahi Maori Club, and an active member of in various community activities.  In July the following year, Kīngi was instrumental in establishing a Home Guard unit at Rāpaki.[3] He then went on to become a recruiting officer during the war, before his passing in 1942, aged 68.[4]


Kīngi explained the Home Guard obligations in The Press.


‘Men between the ages of 18 and 45 years with up to three children were required for home defence only . . . . and those wishing to offer their services could obtain particulars at Army District Headquarters, Christchurch. Voluntary enlistments for the oversea? forces would also be accepted. Urging young men who were already members of the Home Guard to transfer to the Territorial Force, he said that no Maori joining up would be sent overseas without his consent first being obtained, “The men of the Maori Battalion are standing shoulder to shoulder with the youth of the pakeha,” he added, “and surely we are not going to let them down by allowing the pakeha people to undertake all the defence of New Zealand.”’[5]


Was Tuahiwi the first Māori Home Guard unit formed?  Or was there one formed earlier somewhere in the North Island?


[1] Press, 21 December 1940, p.14.

[2] Press, 20 December 1940, p.10.

[3] Press, 7 July 1941, p.4.

[4] Press, 22 July 1940, p.10; 6 July 1942, p.6.

[3] Press, 9 September 1941, p.8.

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