Crown apology to Māori Battalion ‘a matter for the Waitangi Tribunal’

By Whatitiri Te Wake

The last surviving member of the Māori Battalion, Tā Bom Gillies, believes an apology to the Māori Battalion is required for the way the returned servicemen were treated on their return from war.

Tomorrow at Government House, Tā Bom will be knighted by Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro.

Tā Bom, at 96 years old is still passionate about making things right for him and his comrades of the 28th Māori Battalion and the trauma that was experienced by the returned serviceman. Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an apology will be considered if the Waitangi Tribunal recommends it.

"That's a matter for the Waitangi Tribunal to determine the level of detail with the ability to make recommendations that whoever the government of the day should be responding to," she says.

Oral evidence in the Veterans Claim, Wai 2500, was held in 2016 before the tribunal. The outcome and recommendations are still pending. Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rāwiri Waititi says an apology is long overdue

“Me whakapāha ka tika. Ka roa nei tātou e whanga nei kia whakapāha te kāwanatanga mo ngā tūkinotanga o ā tātou tāngata. Kei roto i o tātou whānau tonu e pupuri ana ki ēnā māuiuitanga”

“They should definitely apologise. We've been waiting a long time for an apology for the harms inflicted when the soldiers returned. Our families are still living with the trauma.”

Although time may not be on his side, Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri outlines her commitment to putting things right.

“That point of urgency with him being the sole survivor is a good one, and I'll definitely take that as far as I can," she says.