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Battalion museum ‘vote-rigging’ move

The planned Maori Battalion museum at Waitangi has been described as “a political vote-rigging exercise”.

Na Raihania, the son of the late Noel Raihania, a C Company veteran, says he deplores the plan.

The museum, scheduled by the Waitangi National Trust for completion by Waitangi Day next year, came about as part of the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement.

“We gave them the courtesy of a hearing last Anzac Day, however, I don’t recall any mention of there already being a concept included in a coalition agreement,” said Mr Raihania.

“I think that is quite deceiving.

“We absolutely disagree with C Company being part of any separate concept outside of Tairawhiti.

“The battalion companies A, B, C, D and HQ were themselves based on separate tribal lines under recognised traditional iwi.

“C Company belongs here in Te Tairawhiti.

“Our soldiers came home here via train to their whanau, mothers, brothers and sisters and children. They did not even land in Auckland.

“The price of citizenship took our C Company papas away in life and now it seems the Waitangi National Trust want them in death.”

Mr Raihania, who says the planned museum has become a political vote-rigging exercise, is a two-time candidate for the Maori Party in Ikaroa-Rawhiti.

Yesterday Walton Walker, chairman of Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust, who represent descendants of C Company, condemned plans for the museum.

“Our stance is that the treasures and the essential life force of our fathers who went to the Second World War with C Company will remain here at home,” he said.

C Company descendants have no reservations in supporting a memorial house for A Company to be built in the north.

“But for all companies, for C Company, to be included in a memorial house of the 28 Maori Battalion, we of C Company do not agree,” said Mr Walker.

Nolan (Noel) Raihania was only 16 when he enlisted and died in 2016 aged 89. He was the president of 28 Maori Battalion Association when it formally closed in 2012, and the last surviving resident C Company veteran in Tairawhiti.

He made an emotional return to Italy with his daughter Moana-Lee in 2014 during commemorations of the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Mr Raihania visited the Forli War Cemetery, where 12 of his 28 Maori Battalion comrades lie, and later met Prince Harry, former Governor General Jerry Mateparae, the Italian Ambassador and Pope Francis.

He was awarded the ONZM in 2011 for services to Maori.

“DEPLORABLE”: The day before Waitangi Day this week, 28 Maori Battalion veteran Robert “Bom” Gillies, left, and Defence Minister Ron Mark carried mauri stones to be buried at the site of a new museum dedicated to the famed World War 2 fighting force. Na Raihania, son of a Maori Battalion veteran, and Walton Walker have condemned plans for the museum. Northern Advocate picture
Na Raihania