It was history in the making today for Ngāti Porou as the soldiers of C Company Māori Battalion were honoured for the sacrifices they made for this country, with the opening of the C Company Memorial House in Gisborne.
60 young local lads were given the role to re-enact the day their ancestor, the first group of Māori left for war 100 years ago today.
Their uniforms are an exact replica of what the original group wore, all donated by Sir Peter Jackson for the occasion.
With only a handful of remaining members of C Company left today, 88-year-old Nolan Raihania is one of them.
“My heart aches, but then I see how beautiful this place is and it makes me remember all the good times when we were together, but when I walk in there, I am sad to see all the photos of those who have left this earth,” says Nolan.
The Memorial House is dedicated to the men of C Company but will house special heirloom memorabilia gifted from descendants of soldiers who fought for this country since the Boer War.
Ngāti Porou descendent, Matanuku Kaa says, “What more can I say, but that it's absolutely stunning, all the memories inside, honouring those who died in the wars gone by.”
Streets were closed off as thousands turned up to pay their respects at the opening of whare taonga that has taken years to build and will remain for future generations.