Wednesday, 3 April 2019

8-metre-tall carved Māori monument to be unveiled in Zonnebeke


This time the text is first in Dutch to give some more details to our Belgium readers who are not so familiar with Maori culture.


Maori gedenkteken in Zonnebeke met ANZAC Day op 25 april 2019.


Donderdag 25 april 2019 wordt een speciale dag voor de Nieuw-Zeelandse Maori gemeenschap. ’s Morgens vanaf 08.30 wordt er een speciaal gedenkteken ingehuldigd ter herinnering aan de Maori en iedereen die samen met hen aan het Westelijk Front streden gedurende de Eerste Wereldoorlog.
Pou Maumahara betekent niets anders dan gedenkzuil. In dit geval is het een houten, gesculpteerde gedenkzuil met een gewicht van meer dan 6 ton en 8 meter hoog gemaakt uit 4.500 jaar oud Kauri hout uit de moerassen van Nieuw-Zeeland. Het oorspronkelijke gewicht van het hout vooraleer het bewerkt was, bedroeg 17 ton. Men heeft gedurende 4 jaar gewerkt aan het kunstwerk.
Het kunstwerk kreeg de naam Pohutukawa naar de gelijknamige plant. De pohutukawa is een plant uit de mirtefamilie, metrosideros excelsa. Het is een tot 20 m hoge boom met een brede kroon en kromme, kronkelige twijgen welke door Nieuwzeelanders ook wel als hun kerstboom aanzien wordt omdat hij bloeit rond die tijd. Deze boom symboliseert ook het nieuwe begin; deze bomen verwelkomden de eerste Maori toen ze voor het eerst in Aotearoa (land van de lange witte wolk – de naam die de Maori gaven aan Nieuw Zeeland) aan land kwamen. Het is ook de laatste boom op de uiterste rand van Nieuw Zeeland in Cape Reinga, waar ze spiritueel van hun geliefden afscheid nemen.
Pohutukawa is ook één van de negen sterren van de cluster Matariki (Pleïaden) die symbool staat voor zij die gestorven zijn.
De mooie rode bloem van deze plant wordt eveneens vergeleken met de bloeiende klaproos hier aan het Westelijk Front.
De sculptuur heeft twee zijden; Tümatauenga  (oorlog) en Rongomaraeroa (vrede). Deze twee parten vertellen enerzijds het verhaal van zij die kwamen van de uiterste einden der aarde om hier deel te nemen aan de oorlog en anderzijds van zij die thuis bleven in Nieuw Zeeland, ook zij die oppositie voerden tegen deelname aan de oorlog en de dienstplicht.
Houtsnijwerk is bij de Maori sinds mensenheugenis een manier (naast zang, dans en muziek) om de verhalen van het volk te registreren en bij de Maori zie je dat niet alleen in kunstwerken maar ook in traditionele wharenui (gesculpteerd gemeenschapshuis) in een marae  (omheind complex van gebouwen en grond) dat behoort tot een iwi (stam), hapū (sub stam) of whānau (familie)
Met deze memoriaal, gemaakt door de beste beeldhouwers uit Nieuw Zeeland, wil men de voorvaderen herinneren en herdenken. New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) (Nieuw Zeeland Maori Kunst en Ambachten Instituut) in Rotorua is fier dat ze dit prachtig werk hebben gemaakt en dat ze het kunnen schenken aan de gemeente Zonnebeke.
Het is ook de allereerste keer dat de rol van de Maori tijdens de EersteWereldoorlog op deze manier werd erkend in Europa.
Het verhaal dat de Pou Maumahara vertelt is een stuk van Nieuw Zeelands gedeelde geschiedenis met België – en de reden waarom Nieuw Zeelanders  ieder jaar naar hier reizen om de herinnering te eren van zij die hier vochten tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog.
De Maori werden hoofdzakelijk in het Maori Pionier Bataljon ondergebracht; een eenheid welke geniewerk uitvoerde op de slagvelden zoals; wegen en smalspoor aanleggen, prikkeldraad leggen, loopgraven,  en schuilplaatsen maken. Ze werkten in barre omstandigheden, regen, sneeuw, koude en modder waren hun deel. In dit bataljon waren in totaal 2.227 Maori en 458 Pacific Islanders. 336 werden aan het Westelijk Front gedood en 734 gewond. 78 zijn er begraven in ons land.
Maori streden ook in andere eenheden van de Nieuw Zeelandse Divisie. Er werkten er in de bossen in Noord-Frankrijk, bij de mijnwerkers die tunnels groeven, bij de smalspooreenheid, bij de bereden troepen en bij infanterie- en artillerietroepen evenals bij de medische dienst.

Mensen van Maori origine gingen ook in dienst bij eenheden van andere Gemenebest landen of bij de Marine en Luchtvaartdienst van het Verenigd Koninkrijk. Het is zodoende onmogelijk het precieze aantal slachtoffers te bepalen onder de Maori.
Van de meer dan 18.000 Nieuw Zeelandse doden in de Groote Oorlog stierven er rond de 13.000 aan het Westelijk Front.
De Slag van Passendale wordt erkend als meest representatief voor de slachting aan het Westelijk Front in Nieuw Zeeland en ver daar buiten. Daarom werd gekozen om de Pou Maumahara in Zonnebeke te plaatsen, bij het Memorial Museum Passendale 1917 en de Herdenkingstuinen in het Kasteelpark van Zonnebeke. De vele bezoekers aan park en museum zullen aldus ook de rol en het offer van de Maori kunnen leren kennen.

hier kun je zien hoe het kunstwerk werd gemaakt: 
https://vimeo.com/125096123



8-metre-tall carved Māori monument to be unveiled in Zonnebeke
A new memorial honouring the role of New Zealand’s Maori and other service people in the First World War will be unveiled in the Passchendaele Memorial Park, next to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Zonnebeke on Anzac Day, 25 April 2019.
The pou maumahara (memorial carving) was created from 4,500-year-old native New Zealand timber by master carvers, tutors and students from the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) in Rotorua, New Zealand. Please see footage of the carving here: https://vimeo.com/125096123. 
NZMACI board member David Tapsell says the pou maumahara is named “Pohutukawa” after a native New Zealand tree that symbolises new beginnings.
“Pohutukawa trees welcomed the tupuna (ancestors) of New Zealand’s Maori people when they first arrived in the country, as well as being the tree that spiritually farewells our loved ones.”
The red pohutukawa flower is also often compared to the poppy at Passchendaele when it blooms.
“The carving has two sides representing Tumatauenga (war) and Rongomaraeroa (peace), acknowledging those who sailed vast distances to take part in the war, as well as those who remained in New Zealand,” says Mr Tapsell.
“The memorial carving celebrates the memory of our ancestors, expressed through our nation’s greatest carvers. NZMACI is proud to have produced this magnificent work and to gift it to the community of Zonnebeke.”
The memorial weighs just over six tonnes and stands eight metres tall.
New Zealand Ambassador to Belgium Gregory Andrews says the unveiling of the pou maumahara carving is a fitting way to conclude New Zealand’s centenary commemorations in Belgium.
“The story the pou maumahara tells is part of New Zealand’s shared history with Belgium – and the reason so many of our people travel here every year to honour the memory of those who fought in the First World War.
“This is also the first time the role of Maori in the First World War has been recognised in this way in Europe.”
Mayor of Zonnebeke Dirk Sioen says the installation of the pou maumahara in Zonnebeke, next to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, is a symbol for our community of the long-lasting bond with New Zealand.
“It is of uttermost importance to tell and spread our common history to the many visitors of the former battlefields of Passchendaele,” he says.
The memorial carving will be unveiled at a special ceremony following Australia and New Zealand’s annual ANZAC Day dawn service at the CWGC Buttes New British Cemetery in Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke. Members of the public are welcome to attend.
Representatives from NZMACI, including one of the Institute’s master carvers, will also be holding workshops within the community highlighting Maori culture to support interaction between cultures in the weeks before ANZAC Day. Master carver James Rickard will be in Belgium from 6 – 16 April and is available for interviews.

Sidebar:

Event: Unveiling of new memorial carving honouring the role of New Zealand’s Maori and other service people in the First World War
When: ANZAC Day (25 April), 8.45 AM, following Australia and New Zealand’s annual dawn service
Where: Passchendaele Memorial Park, next to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Berten Pilstraat 5C, 8980 Zonnebeke, Belgium

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

ANZAC Tunnelers in Belgium from 1916 on


Next month,  on the 25th of  April it will be ANZAC day and it will be commemorated all over the world by a lot of Australians and New Zealanders. Also here at the Western Front, there are some commemoration events for both countries. We thought it would be worth to tell another ANZAC story that, as far as I know, never has been published before.

George Stuart from Dunedin in Otago New Zealand was in the 1st Canterbury Bn. He died on 24 September 1916 age 25 and is buried in Belgium at TANCREZ FARM CEMETERY at Ploegsteert (Comines-Warneton). There are three New Zealanders buried there. 

Benjamin Herbert Needs from Alma Oamaru Otago New Zealand was in the 1st Otago Bn. He died on 15 November 1916 age 22 and is also buried in Belgium at RAILWAY DUGOUTS BURIAL GROUND (TRANSPORT FARM) at Zillebeke (Ypres). He is the only New Zealander on this cemetery.

Of course, the New Zealand Division came into Belgium only in 1917 and they left Flanders again in 1918. In total three New Zealanders are buried in Belgium in 1916. What happened and how is this possible?

William john Mitchell
The first to be buried in Belgium was William John Mitchell from Cromwell in Otago New Zealand who served in the 2nd Bn Otago. He died on 01/07/1916 age 20 and is buried at LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY in Poperinge. He was with his unit in Houplines just over the border in France and was badly wounded. He was transported with N° 4 Ambulance Train to Poperinge where there was a Casualty Clearing Station, unfortunately, he died underway.
He was wounded on the 30th, the day they did a gas attack against the enemy lines and also the day that there was a bombardment from the Germans. We really don’t know what kind of wounds he had, it could be from the bombardment of the Germans but also from their own gas cylinders. It is at high risk to install cylinders with gas for an attack the following day knowing that the enemy could shell the area and so destroy your own gas containers!

The two other New Zealanders were part of (detached from their unit) the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company and worked with those Tunnellers in Belgium when they died. 
George Stuart was at Hill 63, this is at the Catacombs in Ploegsteert (AKA Plugsteert) Wood. According to his file, he was KIA but I suppose he was wounded and brought over to Tancrez Farm (Cemetery) because there was an aid post at this place.
Benjamin Needs was at Hill 60, the Australian 1st Tunnelling Company took it over from the Canadians early November 1916. Hill 60 is very well known from the Australian film with the same name and for the Caterpillar and Hill 60 mine craters, two of the 19 mines who were fired on the 7th  June 1917. Hill 60 is also one of the main sites in Flanders to visit when on pilgrimage at the Western Front. Hill 60 and the underground work of the miners was not only a very secret part of the war but also a very cruel and devastating place.

As this story is telling you, New Zealanders and  Australians have been mixed not only in the ANZAC Corps as two different Nations but there was also an exchange of people between the different Nations of the Commonwealth.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Kiro Luke ADAM from Rarotonga (Cook Islands)

On 5 February 2019 at 5 pm we had a commemoration event at New Irish Farm Cemetery in Ieper/Ypres for Kiro Luke ADAM (born Atamu) from Rarotonga, a member of the Māori Pioneer Battalion during WWI.

In the early 1900’s Kiro Luke ADAM sailed from Rarotonga, Cook Islands to work as a gardener in Parnell, Auckland. He was the youngest of two brothers and two sisters.
He enlisted to go to war on the 1st July 1915 in Takapuna and his declared age at that time was 21 years old. He was 1,70 m and his weight was about 75 kg. His military record (one sheet) gives 1 June 1893 as the date of birth. In that case, he was 22 years old. 
 He joined the 2nd Māori Contingent. They departed New Zealand for Suez on 19 September 1915 on board of the ship Waitemata. In his military record, it appears that Kiro was attached to the 2nd Auckland Infantry Battalion on 19 Jan 1916 in Moascar, Ismailia.
On 20 February when the NZ Pioneer Battalion was authorized he became an NZ Pioneer.
On the 9th of April, he sailed from Port Said to France on board of the Canada, altogether 28 officers and 948 other ranks who arrived in Marseilles on 14 April 1916. On the 15th and 16th they were transported by train to Steenbecque, Northern France and marched into a small village known as Morbecque.
On the 17th they moved again to Sercus and later that month the NZ Pioneers were split to different places and different work. On May 15, 1916 the Battalion moved to Armentieres.
(c) IWM Q653 on the road to Armentieres

D Company of the NZ Pioneer Battalion to consist of Cook Islanders only attended to the sawmill work, concrete works and R.E. dumps for the next 2-3 months.
(C) IWM Q4735 Maori lumber workers, Forest de Nieppe

On 8 August 1916 Private Kiro Luke ADAM was appointed a Battalion Bomber – a specialist in hand grenade throwing. Mid-August the Pioneers moved away from the trenches in Armentieres to the Somme in the Longueval area. Mid-October they went back to the Armentieres sector.
Early 1917 there was a reorganization and Kiro would probably be no longer in D company. From 15 February on, Māori pioneers have been in Belgium. Most of the time until the summer they have been around the Messines area in preparation of the big attack, known as the Battle of the Mines, on the 7th of June. At the end of June they went to Vieux-Berquin, just over the border in France to rest. 
From the 3rd of July on, they came back in Flanders/Belgium in different areas for the next two months.
End of September, the Māori Pioneer Battalion came to Ypres and the St. Julian / Passchendaele sector to prepare the area prior to the involvement of the New Zealand Division in the Battle of Passchendaele.
The Battle of Broodseinde was fought as part of Third Ypres on 4 October 1917 by the New Zealanders who took ‘s Graventafel and opened up the way to Passchendaele.
On the 4th of October, the German shelling was not heavy west of Kansas Cross, and at 11 a.m. B and later A Company Pioneers commenced repairs on the road forward to Kansas Cross. The Pioneers did excellent work on the roads and artillery tracks, but wet weather on the 6th and several days afterward, and the trains of pack mules along the newly formed earth road turned it into a quagmire. For several days it was a steady fight with mud. Guns and horses were bogged everywhere. The Māori Pioneers pulled many guns out and into position but the road was in a fearful condition.
After the Battle of Broodseinde the Māori Pioneer  Battalion took over the road as far as Spree Farm, and with practically no material they had to make the road forward passable for guns.
No further attempt could be made to push forward the tram lines owing to the lack of material. Even had this been available the congested state of traffic on the road from Ypres to the Steenbeek brook made it almost impossible to get wagons with material forward.
The Pioneers did what they could do; making plank roads, dug board tracks, etc.… in the direction of Passchendaele because on the 9th October the British 49th Division had to attack and later on the 12th  Oct the New Zealand Division had to attack again. Guns had to be brought forward, supplies, ammunition, and men.
They were working around the road from Spree Farm to Kansas Cross and ‘s Graventafel and the frontline was about 400 yards over ‘s Graventafel in the direction of Passchendaele between Waterloo Farm and Fleet Cott
Sadly private Kiro Luke ADAM was killed in action on Sunday 7 October 1917 in between Spree Farm and Kansas Cross. His body has been buried in a field grave. This means that he was killed instantly. Otherwise, he should have been brought to the aid post at Schuler Galleries, near Schuler Farm (only 200 yards) or to the Advanced Dressing Station at Wieltje (3 km). The same day a Fiji Islander, Joseph Curtis was wounded and brought over to the Can. Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinge but eventually he died on the 8th and is buried there.
There was always shelling and bombarding in between the battles. The front line was about 1200-1500 yards north-east of the place where Kiro Adam has been buried. Probably he has been buried where he was killed. On the right-hand side of the road, south of Pond Farm. 
trench map area of the field grave of Kiro Luke ADAM (red point near to Spree Farm on the map)
click on the map/photos to see more details
same trench map mixed with today map with street names
 
After the war, in 1920, his remains have been removed from his field grave by the exhumation units to New Irish Farm Cemetery in St Jean (now part of Ypres). 

4,719 commonwealth servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated in this cemetery, 3,271 of the burials are unidentified. 18 men from the New Zealand Division are buried or commemorated here, 17 of them died in October 1917.

By the end of the war; almost 2,500 Māori and about 500 Pacific Islanders had served in the Māori (Pioneer) Battalion. Of these, about 350 died on active service and about 750 were wounded. 79 men from the Māori Pioneer Battalion are buried in Belgium.
Māori also enlisted (and died) in other units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force but also in other units of the Commonwealth Forces.

In April 2017 his grave has been visited by the Queens Representative of Cook Island, His Excellency Sir Tom Marsters and Lady Tuaine. 
His Excellency Sir Tom Marsters and Lady Tuaine
Wreath laying at the Menin Gate with H.E. Gregory Andrews, Ambassador for New Zealand to Belgium.

Only one of the 11 Cook Islanders who died during the Great War is buried in Belgium.
Sir Tom and Lady Tuaine did a battlefield tour in Northern France and Flanders/Belgium and they have been at the Menin Gate for the daily Last Post Ceremony to lay a wreath on behalf of the People of Cook Islands.
(c) Freddy Declerck MNZM OAM