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

Rousing Haka Signals the Arrival of the Maori Contingent

Nepia Ratima was born in 1892 to parents Hauta Ratima and Wharekohuru Romana, of Poroporo.

At the outbreak of World War One, Nepia was working as a labourer at Torere and enlisted on 20 October 1914 with B Company, 1st Māori (Native) Contingent. He was 22.

After a period of training, Nepia Ratima embarked from Wellington aboard the troopship Warrimoo on 14 February 1915.

The contingent arrived in Egypt on 26 March 1915 and instead of going to the Dardanelles, they were sent to Malta for training and garrison duties. This frustrated Nepia who was keen to see action and he was docked some of his pay for using obscene language.

The Māori Contingent left for Gallipoli and landed at Anzac Cove on 3 July 1915. The Māori were attached to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade on the northern flank of the Anzac perimeter, manning a line from Russell’s Top, down Walker’s Ridge and along North Beach to the outposts at Fisherman’s Hut.

The Māori were initially employed as pioneers and were involved in clearing dirt from the mine-workings at Quinn’s Post and dragging water tanks up onto the spurs of Plugge’s Plateau. They risked rifle fire, endured heat, lice, and flies; they lived with the stench of death in their nostrils, poor food and endless dysentery.

In August, the contingent was involved in the advance on the Sari Bair Ridge, leading up to the attack on Chunuk Bair. After dark, on 6 August, the men of the contingent were supporting the Canterbury and Otago Mounted Rifles and had six objectives to take, including Bauchop’s Hill.

The contingent adopted Te Rauparaha’s haka, ‘Ka mate, ka mate, ka ora, ka ora’, as their war cry, and set about clearing the Turkish trenches with the bayonet. Once cleared, the men gave another rousing haka that could be heard as far away as Table Top and each of the Outposts and everyone gave three cheers.

During the attack, possibly around 1.00am on the 7th, Nepia Ratima was killed in action and unfortunately his body was never recovered.

16/91 Private Nepia Ratima is commemorated on the Chunuk Bair (New Zealand) Memorial, Chunuk Bair Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey.

He is also commemorated on a panel at the Whakatane Memorial Rest Room at the base of the Pohaturoa Rock.