NGARIMU, Moananui-a-Kiwi (1918-43) 

b.Kokai Pa, near Whareponga, Ruatoria. 

The only full Maori to have won the Victoria Cross of the Maori Battalion during World War Two. (Tebaga Gap in Tunis in March 1943) 

Over 24 hours, Second Lieutenant Ngarimu and his platoon attacked and held a hill which enabled the Germans to fire on other units of the New Zealand Division at Tebaga Gap. 

Greatly outnumbered, he and the few members of his platoon still able to fight, actually met a German attack by charging. 

He died firing his sub-machine gun from the hip, 'defiantly facing the enemy', said the citation, coming 'to rest almost on top of those of the enemy who had fallen to his gun just before he fell to theirs'. 

Acknowledgment Courtesy



Listen O people of Maoriland
To a tale of valour unfold;
Be proud my Maori brothers
Of a modern warrior bold
Let the hakas shake the earth
When you gather on the maraes;
Let the maidens chant the saga
Of Ngarimu 'neath foreign skies
Defiant on Tebaga's height
Holding the foe at bay
Standing like Maniopoto
Of ancient Maori lay.

Shouting the tribal battle-cry
He led his gallant band
Up the steep face of Tebaga's hill
'Gainst modern foe in far off land
Through murderous fir as guns spat death
'Gainst blinding flash that left no trace;
Ever in front he reached the crest
First up in that mad race!

A fleeting silhouette he made
Against the African sky
A symbol of Maori courage
Magnificent ...immortal
That shall never die
On against the deadly guns
As men fell at his side
Hurling death before him
He cleared a pathway wide
Till the crest at last was won
The foe, forced to retire;
For none could stand before that rush
Of brown-skinned battle ire!

Reinforced the foe came back
Engage them man for man
Fight on and on as our fathers did.
Cried Ngarimu, as he forward ran
Maori challenge and Nazi taunt
Rose o'er the din of shot and shell
And brave men died to hold the line;
Thru a night of blazing hell!

With Tommy gun and jagged rock
From a breach he drove them back
Regrouped his dwindling forces ...held on
Repelled each new attack
Morning came ,once more the foe
Attacking front and flanks
Found on Tebaga's height
Ngarimu's depleted ranks
Two unwounded comrades
Rallied to his final call:
Tree grim defiant warriors
Giving battle unto all
Beneath a hail of lead
He finally went down
Defiant unto death
Worthy of a victor's crown
Help came to late to save him
But of this all men shall know;
With empty gun beside him
He lay ...face to foe.

Thus died the gallant Ngarimu
Noble son of noble race;
An honoured name of Maoridom
Traditional lore to grace
First of his illustrious people
To win that glorious prize
The Victoria Cross ...'For Valour'
For glory ...that never dies.
Sleep on O gallant Ngarimu
Resting far from native shore
The spirits of the ancient past
Watch o'er thy place forevermore
Around you sleep the brave ones
Comrades of a glorious stand
In modern battle-dress they join
The great one ...on the other strand.
Rejoice O people of Maoriland
Salute brave Ngarimu
Let Maori and Pakeha alike
Accord him a hero's due
For his was the mighty courage
Of immortal Maniopoto
I will fight on against you forever
Was his challenge to the foe
Down the ages may his story
Inspire each generation new;
A bronze cross ...forever tell
The Saga of Ngarimu


May 18 1948,Whakatane

...a tribute to Second Lieutenant Moananui-a kiwa Ngarimu, first Maori winner of the Victoria Cross.


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