A call to action

Issue: Volume 93, Number 12

Posted: 14 July 2014
Reference #: 1H9ct1

On 19 June, The Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Fund Board welcomed around 300 guests to Parliament in celebration of the 2013/2014 tertiary scholarships, and in remembrance of the Battalion to whom the scholarships are dedicated.

Special guests in attendance were His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Matepārae GNZM, QSO Governor-General of New Zealand and Corporal (Ret) Bill (Willie) Apiata VC. They joined the scholarship recipients and their whānau; Board members; Ministers and Members of Parliament, including Minister of Education the Honourable Hekia Parata who chairs the board; past scholarship recipients; iwi leaders; New Zealand Defence Force personnel, and students and teachers who recently returned from a pilgrimage to Second World War battle sites where the Māori Battalion fought.

The event served a dual purpose: many Ngārimu VC scholarship recipients of the past were welcomed back to join the Board’s celebrations. They, along with present scholars and the many groups and individuals that support the Ngārimu Board, were challenged by Minister Parata to begin the process of forming an alumni association, so that scholars of yesteryear can contribute to the future shape of the board’s work, and today’s scholars can benefit from their accumulated experience and wisdom. Together the whānau can continue to strengthen the living legacy of the 28th (Māori) Battalion.

East Coast kapa haka Te Hokowhitu a Tū provided waiata tautoko throughout the night. Speeches were given by illustrious manuhiri (guests) such as 28th (Māori) Battalion mōrehu (veteran), Nolan Raihania, The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Matepārae and Corporal (Ret.) Willie Apiata VC, who received a special award from the board. The emotional impact this had on the gathering was huge, says 2013/2014 Ngārimu VC Scholarship recipient Kristin Ross.

“All the songs were written in the World War Two era. Your mind goes back to the time of your ancestors, and you try to imagine the lives of your relatives that went to war, those feelings just wash over you as you’re entering into the hall. That was really overwhelming.”

Last year the nation commemorated the 70th anniversary of the posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross to the parents of Second Lieutenant Te Moananui a Kiwa Ngārimu. He was the first Māori to receive this most prestigious recognition that the allied military can bestow. As Minister Parata said in her speech, while we celebrate the heroism that the 28th (Māori) Battalion displayed on the battle field, we must never forget their sacrifice, and our loss.

When challenging the group to solidify the connections between past and present scholars, Minister Parata spoke about her own experience as a recipient of the Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial scholarship, and how it spurred her to greater educational heights. She acknowledged the presence of many others like her, who received support from the Board, and are now successful and respected members of Māoridom, and influential New Zealanders.

“As scholarship recipients, we are all custodians of this taonga. It has enriched our lives, and given us an opportunity to excel. We, in turn, are creating the opportunity to give back and enhance the experience of future scholarship recipients… We envisage that the alumni association will foster a spirit of kotahitanga among all Ngārimu and 28th (Māori) Battalion scholars, providing mentoring opportunities, furthering the goals of the fund, and strengthening networks among Māori leaders of yesterday, today and tomorrow.”

Honour, privilege, responsibility

For Kristin Ross, the event brought home the significance of the taonga that she was humbled to receive.

“I spoke to many who may have received their scholarship in the 1970 or 80s, and they said that they just received a letter in the mail with a cheque, and that was it! There was no celebration of the scholarship’s prestige. Even just walking into the room, there were so many well-respected people from the Māori world; Hone Harawira, Hekia Parata, Willie Apiata VC was there as well. To even be in their presence was quite overwhelming for me. It makes you realise that you’ve joined a really inspirational club. I felt like the 28th Battalion was in the room with us.

“The scholarship, and having the opportunity to meet so many of the alumni, will definitely help to inspire me to push ahead. It really hit home for me what the scholarship meant, and that I now have the job of Ngārimu VC ambassador. To be honest, for me I see it as my job to help revive knowledge around the 28th Battalion within my own family, hapū and iwi. Even though [my hapū and iwi] actually had soldiers in the Māori Battalion, nobody has ever really talked about it.”

Kristin feels sure that all of the alumni were very happy to be welcomed back to the Ngārimu Scholarship whānau. She had the opportunity to speak to many older scholars, and says that a common thread in the wisdom she received on the night was never to disregard an opportunity that presents itself.

Kristin is an excellent example of the values and principles the Ngārimu VC scholarship upholds: commitment, service and leadership. As a potential future Māori leader, she is already thinking about how she can make a difference to her people.

Kristin is currently studying for her Masters degree in Arts, with a specialisation in te reo Māori. Her cherished ambition is to help strengthen the revitalisation of the language of her ancestors, by examining how we can expose more early learners to quality television programming in te reo Māori. This is the subject of the thesis she is currently working on.

“When my daughter was born, and I was at home with her, we had Māori TV playing a lot. The thing that stood out for me was that all the programmes we were watching were just translations of overseas content, mainly American and Japanese. I thought that research needed to be done into how we can go about making it viable to produce locally made programming for preschool aged children, in te reo Māori. I think we need to examine the potential benefits to us as a people, but particularly the benefits to the language itself. How does programming content affect language development?

“The thing is, the content doesn’t match the language – te reo Māori – that it’s translated into. For example, Sponge Bob has recently been translated. There is so much dialogue that simply doesn’t translate into te reo Māori, because obviously it’s from such a different culture. Sometimes this translated dialogue actually makes no sense, so it’s kind of like the depth of te reo Māori is lost in these programmes. These direct translations bear no relationship to the actual living language of te reo Māori.”

Since she is still in the initial stages of her research, Kristin is reticent in sharing her own ideas for how this situation might be improved. But the main thing she’d like to pursue is new pathways in overcoming money as the main barrier.
“It’s not about reliance on government funding; there’s got to be ways to make locally produced content commercially viable. We need to be motivated and brave enough to do it ourselves.”


In this article, Kristin Ross is quoted as saying “For example, SpongeBob SquarePants has recently been translated. There is so much dialogue that simply doesn’t translate into te reo Māori, because obviously it’s from such a different culture. Sometimes this translated dialogue actually makes no sense, so it’s kind of like the depth of te reo Māori is lost in these programmes.”

This passage combines two quotes that taken together could be misconstrued. Kristin’s intended meaning was not that the translation of SpongeBob SquarePants that she refers to does not make sense, but that sometimes direct translations into te reo Māori of another language can be misleading.

Education Gazette apologises for any confusion caused.

Feedback from past scholars who attended the event

Much impetus was created toward the formation of an alumni association on the night of the awards ceremony, as reflected in the enthusiastic comments of many of the former scholarship recipients.

“Kei te pirangi noa iho ahau te mihi ki a koutou mo te po tino whakahirahira i te Taite kua pahure ake nei. Kāre te kupu e taea te whakamārama i aku kare-ā-roto, otirā ngā mea i rangona e toku ngākau i taua po. Te pakari hoki o te wairua me te mauri i roto i taua ruma. E tino waimarie ana ahau.”

“I just want to thank you all for the magnificent night last Thursday. There are no words to express my feelings, indeed the things that touched my heart that night. The spirit and life force was alive and well in the room. I am so very fortunate.”

“...what an awesome occasion, very moving and something I won’t forget any time soon... please pass on my interest in sitting on and contributing to the scholarship alumni roopu. I am very keen to get this kaupapa moving as there is much potential here”.

“What a wonderful night it was. Something so fabulous to strive for and to be involved with. Happy to help in any way.”

“I’ve been to a lot of Māori events in the past, and this one topped the lot. It struck the right balance between commemoration, celebration, formality, humour and the sense of purpose. Well done.”

Applications for the 2014/2015 round of Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarships are now open!

There might be a future scholar and Māori leader in your class!

If you’re a past Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial scholar, and you haven’t been contacted yet, or if you’d just like to get involved with the alumni:

BY Jaylan Boyle
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 7:56 pm, 14 July 2014

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