[Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi who served with the Māori First Native Contingent talks about Gallipoli].
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An unidentified woman interviews Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi about serving with the Māori First Native Contingent on Gallipoli during World War I.
Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi: The Māori Battalion was formed and composed from members of every tribe in the country. Every tribe in New Zealand was represented, beginning from the far north right down to Invercargill including Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands.
Interviewer: And it was on a volunteer basis, wasn't it?
Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi: It was on a voluntary, a volunteer basis. We formed two companies comprising of five hundred men and we were assembled together in Auckland and there came under a Major Peacock who was on the permanent staff, he was a fine man, and we went, we left Wellington on 14 February on the Warimoo, commanded by Captain Edward, and called in at Albany for supplies. We arrived at Gallipoli about a week or two after the landing. Our boys, our Pākehā boys landed on 25th April, well about a week or two afterwards, we landed and we were very fortunate ever to have landed at all. The battalion had been divided up into various groups and the area that is given to Roger and myself was near No. 3 Post.
Interviewer: Would you mind telling me the rank and surname of Roger?
Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi: Ah, Roger Dansey, of course, was our company commander, captain, and I was his second in command, Captain Tāhiwi. We had seventy men and we had to attack a certain trench occupied by the enemy and, ah.
Interviewer: How many months had you had at Gallipoli before this happened?
Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi: Well, I can't, I can't say definitely - we were there quite a long time. Well, we had seventy men but the officer in command of these other troops here said we that we couldn't have them. He didn't have any to spare so, so we didn't want to, want to go back so we went ahead on our own. Captain Dansey and Lieutenant Hiroti and my brother Corporal Tāhiwi and another man and myself, we went ahead. We decided to attack. Well, we thought a good way to try and frighten the enemy as well was to repeat this Māori haka 'Ka mate, ka mate' when we charged.
Interviewer: And you'd hardly be able to see your men in the darkness, would you?
Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi: Ah well, not really but of course there was only a handful of us and we, they were able to follow on, as we went along and as I say we had decided to charge this group and, ah, at the same time doing this Māori haka 'Ka mate, ka mate'. Perhaps that might have put the fear of God into them and cleared the trench for us.
Interviewer: Did you have to kill any of the enemy in this action?
Captain Pirimi Tāhiwi: Well, no not as far as I can remember we didn't have to put any bayonet through any of them at all. I suppose the haka was enough for them. They wondered who on earth all these savages were - that was that portion. Well, after that attack we got orders to go back to the beach and have a smoko, have a rest. And it was during this period when a Turkish bullet got me. Shoot me right through the neck and the bullet went right down the spine, paralysing the whole of my right side. Fortunately for me, Dr. Hiroa, Dr. Buck was alongside me and I can still remember now that he put his finger right through the hole in my neck, and I call still remember him saying, "You're alright Prim, don't worry you're alright". Then I didn't remember any more and I found myself up in England.
Transcript by Sound Archives/Ngā Taonga Kōrero
Reference number 247036
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
Interviews (Sound recordings)
Tahiwi, Pirimi Pererika, 1890-1969 (b.1890, d.1969), Interviewee
New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (estab. 1962, closed 1975), Broadcaster
Date 27 Sep 1968