Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

The World Wars

The World Wars

When war became imminent in Europe in August, 1914, applications to enlist poured in at Gisborne, and, whilst the voluntary system remained in force, the district invariably provided more than its monthly quota of European recruits. The New Zealand Maori Recruiting Board, which included Sir James Carroll and Sir A. T. Ngata, called for Maori volunteers. It was intended to send one company of Maoris to Samoa page 345 and another to Egypt for garrison duty, but, with the approval of the British authorities, both were despatched first to Egypt and then to Malta. In June, 1915, they were allowed to join in the fighting on Gallipoli, and, in February, 1916, they went to France as part of the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion. When the Poverty Bay-East Coast section returned to Gisborne on 8 April, 1919, its members were entertained at a monster hui.

A memorable Queen Carnival was held at Gisborne to swell the Patriotic Funds. It had been organised prior to the outbreak of hostilities by the City Band with the object of augmenting its own funds, but, in May, 1915, it became a patriotic activity. In all, 2,658,109 votes were sold, realising £22,060. Further entertainments brought the aggregate up to £26,268, and the net surplus was £21,202. The contest resulted:

  • Miss Norma Loisel, “Uawa County,” 984,440 votes.

  • Miss Kathleen Fromm, “Sports,” 456,370.

  • Miss Mary Taylor, “Waiapu,” 374,087.

  • Miss Ivy Parker, “Cosmopolitan Club and Commercial Travellers,” 310,827.

  • Miss Vera MacDonald, “Waikohu,” 231,812.

  • Mrs. A. Zachariah. “Territorials,” 111,517.

  • Miss Rita Caulton, “Rowing,” 75,414.

  • Miss Gladys Cooper, “Friendly Societies,” 50,215.

  • Miss C. Cumming, “Motoring,” 36,621.

  • Mrs. Grayson, “Cook County,” 26,806.

The handsome war memorial alongside Kaiti Esplanade, Gisborne, was erected in honour of the district servicemen who fell during the Great War of 1914–18. A marble statue of a New Zealand soldier, with bowed head and arms reversed, surmounts a lofty shaft set upon a massive pedestal. On each corner of the square plinth is a pediment on which lies an outstretched lion with upraised head. Wide, shallow steps lead on each side to the plinth. On the four walls of the pedestal are bronze tablets bearing the names of the heroes—561 in all—inscribed in high relief. The monument, which was designed by Mr. E. Armstrong (a young Gisborne architect) was unveiled by Colonel C. W. Melville, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., on 25 April, 1923.

Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in September, 1939, the scenes at the Gisborne Defence Office were reminiscent of those which had been enacted at the opening of the earlier conflict. Offers to enlist flowed in from young men in all walks of life. Interest among the Maoris was heightened when the authorities agreed to their request that the Maori Battalion should, on this occasion, be placed on the same footing as the pakehas throughout the war. Wing Commander Colin Gray, D.S.O., D.F.C. and bar (son of Mr. L. Gray, of Gisborne) became New Zealand's top-scoring fighter pilot. After the war he was appointed Deputy-Director of Allied Air Co-operation and Foreign Liaison in the British Air Ministry Both Lieutenant-Colonel Reta Keiha, M.C. (born at Gisborne) and Lieutenant-Colonel Arapeta Awatere, D.S.O., M.C. (born at Tuparoa) rose to O.C. 28th Maori Battalion.