Topic: ANZAC

Māori Pioneer tunneller honoured in Anzac Parade

updated By Ripeka Timutimu
  • Wellington
Descendants of Fred Eru Toe, a Māori Pioneer Tunneller, meet at Parliament for special Anzac Parade - Photo / file

Fred Eru Toe, of the Hokianga, was only 21 years old when he left New Zealand shores bound for war.  100 years on and his son, Kiri Erutoe and grandson, Katene Paul-Gilbert have arrived in Wellington to honour their family member in today’s Anzac Parade.

Not much is known here in New Zealand about the efforts of the tunnellers, but the theory behind it was simple.  A labyrinth of caverns and tunnels were dug beneath enemy territory so as to bypass the trenches and barbed-wire fences. 

The idea was to connect these caverns, turning them into a secret, sheltered base for an infantry division, then tunnel towards the German trenches and lay mines to blow them apart.

The tunnellers won this battle, forcing the German miners into a retreat from which they never recovered.

Katene says “It’s important to recognise the sacrifice from not only your whānau but everyone's whānau” in New Zealand's war efforts.

Katene and his grandfather Kiri will participate in the wreath laying ceremony tomorrow at the Cenotaph in Wellington.