National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Ngarimu VC

Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu was born at Whareponga on 7 April 1919. He was of Te Aitanga-a-Mate hapu of Ngati Porou and was the son of a sheep station owner. He completed his schooling at Te Aute College and then worked with his father as a shepherd.

He volunteered for the 28th (Maori) Battalion and headed overseas with 2NZEF’s Second Echelon in May 1940. He was commissioned in April 1942 and served as an intelligence officer before being given the command of a platoon in C Company.

Lieutenant Ngarimu received the Victoria Cross for his inspirational conduct during the breakthrough at Tebaga Gap in the latter stages of the North African Campaign.

On 26 March 1943 he led his platoon in an attack on one of the lower hills of Point 209. Two machine-gun posts were destroyed as the Maori troops swept on to the crest. They then repelled a fierce German counter-attack. Although wounded in the leg and shoulder, Ngarimu would not leave his men. Close quarter fighting raged during the night as the Germans attempted to push his depleted platoon off the hill. At one point Ngarimu resorted to throwing stones to supplement his submachine-gun in driving back an attack. He also led a counter-attack to reclaim some overrun positions.

The following morning, the Germans launched another attack and Ngarimu was there again, standing to meet them, firing his submachine-gun from the hip until he was killed. His posthumous Victoria Cross was presented to his family in an official ceremony at Ruatoria on 6 October 1943. He is commemorated by a scholarship.