Forgotten 43 whānau off to WWI 100 commemorations

updated By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Family members of the Forgotten 43 will travel to France this week for the WWI 100-year anniversary commemorations and the Centennial of the Battle of Arras. The 43 Māori pioneers helped dig underground tunnels in Arras to allow allies to attack Germans by surprise from underground.

A contingent of Ngāti Porou descendants is heading to France for the commemoration of the Battle of Arras which took place in 1917.

Kuini Moehau Reedy says, “To take the tears and thoughts for those who died in this battle, albeit all wars.”

Earle Karini maintains that experience is often the best teacher and that this journey is about ensuring that knowledge of this history is passed down to the descendants.

Earle Karini says, “Showing our kids that learning is not confined to the four walls of a classroom, there are lessons in the forest, in the ocean, in addition, there is educational value is going overseas and tracing the steps of our ancestors.”

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kawakawa Mai Tawhiti student Hinemaia Dewes says, “It's a great journey, a new journey, my spirits are high, there are butterflies in my stomach, it's a special remembrance.”

43 Māori Pioneer Battalion soldiers served in Arras. 100 years later some of their descendants are reflecting, and travelling to see their ancestors buried in Belgium, albeit the various locations where battles took place.

Hinemaia Dewes says, “It's about tracing the genealogical ties between descendant and ancestor, visiting their graves overseas and making a connection with those who passed away.”

The commemorations will be held on April 09 in Arras, France.