Historical journey for Pukemiro students

By Harata Brown
  • Northland

Students and whānau members from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro of Kaitaia have returned to New Zealand.

For over two weeks they travelled through Europe, following in the footsteps of the 28th Māori Battalion, who served in the WWII.

For some, to visit the grave sites of their ancestors who are still buried overseas in Italy, will never be forgotten.

A warm welcome home awaited the intrepid travellers who have completed their trip through Europe.

One of those returning, Jackie Lee Natana says, “'It was great to hear all the different languages, their culture, and to also meet other Māori who are living abroad.'

Among the cities this group visited were Rome, Florence, Pisa, Paris and Hong Kong.

This trip came about after students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Pukemiro competed in the annual Ngarimu VC Essay Competition, and the trip was a hands-on opportunity to learn through visiting sites where the 28th Māori Battalion fought, and in some occasions, lost their lives.

For two members of the group, it was an opportunity to retrace the footsteps of their great-grandfather, Chanel McCalman, who died in battle while fighting with the Māori Battalion. 

Now, the group is looking forward to returning home to the Far North, and share their overseas experiences with their families.