Topics: 28th Māori Battalion, ANZAC

Letters from Te Arawa soldier live on

  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Letters exchanged between the parents of Lyndal Walker during the Second World War have been immortalised in a book launched over the weekend in Rotorua.

Touched by War - Wartime Memories features personal letters between Lieutenant Roki Maika and his wife.

Sisters Jill Robinson, Lyndal Walker and Marua Chadwick of Te Arawa are sharing one of their family's memories.

Walker says, “The whole reason for us being here is that we had our parent's letters to each other.  They were kept by our mother who was a hoarder of significant things and she [kept] every one of them.” 

Their father, Lieutenant Roki Maika of Whakarewarewa, served in the 28th Māori Battalion.

For his daughters, the letters were very personal but say it's a piece of history that should be shared.

Chadwick says, “We have always known about the letters and a few years ago Lyndal actually put the hard copy onto CD so it was revised again to us.  That was a few years ago and since then we sort of forgotten about them, now this has brought them back to us again and, what's more, my children are now at an age where they are interested.”  

Robinson says, “So often things are lost and we forget about them and I know like with us and the letters, it's really easy for us to go back to our grandchildren and read out the letters and say that was your great-grandfather.” 

The project for the book began in June 2017 and 40 stories from Rotorua families have been shared in this collection.

William McDonald, former president of the Rotorua RSA, says, “What surprised us was how many people were willing to share those stories.  I think it's something other RSA should consider in the future.”

Funds raised from the sales of this book will be donated to the Poppy Fund for the welfare of veterans.