‘A window into the past' is how Waitangi Trust Chair Pita Tipene describes the newly opened Te Rau Aroha Museum in Waitangi.
The museum is dedicated to the members of the 28th Māori Battalion who never returned home from the great world wars.
A dawn ceremony celebrating the opening was held this morning where great leaders of Te Ao Māori were acknowledged.
Pita Tipene says, “this is an important resource for people learn about, discuss and better understand what our soldiers went through.”
A $14.6 million grant from the Provincial Growth Fund paid for the museum and an adjoining multi-purpose building.
Minister Shane Jones says there has long been a need for an establishment to celebrate Māori who gave their lives for the price of citizenship.
Shane Jones says, “This has been a long held dream that’s finally come to fruition and will hold and keep safe important stories and memories for at Waitangi.”
Despite the generation gap between veteran Miki Apiti and a young military officer of two years Hana Wainohu, the intent of joining to serve their country is the same.
Miki Apiti says, “I want all our children to come here and see what this place has to offer. Come and see what their ancestors sacrificed for their generations.”
Hana Wainohu says, “Our tupuna have returned home in a sense as their memories will never be lost.”
Work began officially on 5 February, 2019 with the laying of mauri stones at the site.
During WWII children at Māori schools throughout New Zealand raised money to buy a mobile canteen as a 'token of love' hence the name 'Te Rau Aroha'.