A contingent of 51 Ngāti Porou descendants are off to Tunisia to commemorate the 70th Centenary of Ngarimu VC.
The pilgrimage will retrace the footsteps of Te Moana-nui-ā-Kiwa and the 28th Māori Battalion.
Containing excitement was not an option today for students of Te Kura o Kawakawa mai Tawhiti in Gisborne who prepared to embark on a journey, two years in the making.
According to Moerangi Taylor Tihore, “the main goal for me is to retrace the footsteps of my elders who fought in the war, two of whom are buried overseas and two who returned home.”
It'll be the first time for many of the 51 travelling offshore, but what makes it even more memorable is they'll be travelling to the major sites where the 28th Māori Battalion fought in World War II.
Hinetu Dell says, “Many of the place we will be travelling to will be the main sites our ancestors fought, in Tunisia, Italy, Crete and Greece.”
Hinetu grew up at a time when the returned soldiers were trying to settle back into normal life, war stories were seldom spoken in her household, this month however she feels all her questions will be answered.
For many years Dr Monty Soutar has walked a path alone trying to research the untold stories of our Maori war heroes. This time he can enjoy the company of this group with the intention of educating the youth.
He says, “we want to teach these students more about the wars and how their ancestors fought fearlessly in them.”
The tour group come from all parts of the country, not only will they hear the stories of their forefathers but they will also appreciate the sacrifice Cretan people made to protect New Zealand soldiers.