Māori Battalion Hall sadly empty for ANZAC

By Regan Paranihi

Today will be one of the first times in a long time that the Māori Battalion Hall in Palmerston North is empty on ANZAC Day.

Many Māori descendants of veterans of the war in the Palmerston North area would gather to recite the steps their great ancestors once took before they headed off to the war.
 
The Māori Battalion Hall is a tribute to the 28th Māori Battalion.

Hinemoana Durie-Shedlock (Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou) says, "This building was established in 1964. It was an initiative that was funded and established by all the marae in this region."

It is a memorial hall where the Māori community can commemorate their ancestors.

"Firstly, it is to commemorate the soldiers who went to war; secondly, it was set up as a safe place and a meeting place for the Māori community."

Palmerston North was the meeting place where all the companies of the Māori Battalion first came together.

"This was where their training camp was for the soldiers who were going to the second world war. This was where all the companies of the Māori Battalion stayed before they went to war," Durie says.

"When they were leaving for the war, they walked from the showgrounds, down Cuba Street, all the way to the square to thank the people of Palmerston North."

"When they (Te Runanga o Ngāti Raukawa) opened this building, soldiers of the 28th Māori Battalion went back to the showgrounds and again walked along Cuba Street all the way to this building."

Hundreds of locals would usually march down Cuba Street to honour the soldiers of the 28th Māori Battalion who once walked this path before heading to the war. However, this year this is not the case.

"It will be different this year, we will all be staying at home with our families but it will be very different."

The Te Rau Aroha committee hope to plan a formal commemoration day once all of this is over.