Harding Waipuke Leaf was born on the 6th of October 1890 in Whirinaki, Hokianga and was of Ngāpuhi and Te Hikutu descent. Leaf served in both the First and Second World Wars.
Leaf was a member of the Māori Pioneer Battalion taking part in Gallipoli, Chunuk Bair. A Company was made up of men from the West Coast, North of Auckland and the South Island.
The Māori Contingent boarded the ship Wairrimoo at Auckland. The ship then sailed to Wellington, took part in the march there, and then boarded again to leave Wellington for Egypt. The Māori Contingent landed at Gallipoli on 3 July 1915.
Then came 8 August 1915 - the night of Chunuk Bair, the Maori Contingent attacking against severe rifle and machine-gun defence from the turks. Out rang Harding's battle cry “Fight like the ururoa, fight to the death”. The Maori contingent gained a foothold on Chunuk Bair and they would not yield.
Leaf, 1983, p. 17.
This battle cry most likely informed part of the characterisation of Otaki George in Maurice Shadbolt's 1982 play Once on Chunuk Bair.
Leaf survived the First World War, serving 4 years and 51 days. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1918.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in charge of a wiring party. He was taking his party up to the outpost line with wiring material under the most adverse circumstances, as it was very dark and raining heavily. When just outside the frontline, they came under a heavy barrage, but by his fine person example of keeping his men together andled them through the barrage to their work which they completed satisfactorily.
London Gazette, 9 January 1918.
During the 1930s, Leaf became the manager of the North Auckland Rugby Union. He also had a flare for design, creating lettering for a flag gifted by Lord and Lady Bledisloe to the Māori of the Hokianga district in 1934. He rejoined the Army in the Second World War and was killed in action in Crete, 1941.
- Leaf, J.M. (1983). Sons of Te Ramaroa = Nga tama a Te Ramaroa. Kaikohe, N.Z.: Author
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