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Kia Maumahara Māori Pioneers - Forgotten 43

Christchurch tunnel, Arras.

Christchurch tunnel, Arras.

Auckland War Memorial MuseumPH-ALB-420

In December 1916, forty three Māori Pioneer Battalion members were sent to assist the New Zealand Tunnelling Company at Arras.

In the lead up to the Battle of Arras in 1917, the Tunnellers developed caverns under the city of Arras and prepared 12 miles of tunnels which linked the caverns together. This allowed the troops to get close to enemy trenches before emerging to charge them. The caverns which dated back to the 17th Century, could shelter around 20,000 men, had running water, electric lights, kitchens, latrines, a light rail system and a hospital. Many of the tunnels were named after the New Zealand cities and towns, such as Christchurch, Blenheim, Wellington, Auckland - a handy interactive map can be found here.

The tunnels were closed after the Second World War, and unearthed again in the early 1990s by archaeologists in Arras, who researched the underground limestone quarries beneath the town. The Wellington cavern now houses an underground museum and memorial: La Carriere Wellington, Memorial de la Bataille d'Arras .

Sue Baker Wilson has researched hundreds of military personnel files and identified 38 of the 43 Māori Pioneer Battalion who served with the New Zealand Tunnelling Company. If you know of a member of your whānau from the Pioneer Battalion, who served with the Tunnelling Company please contact us. 

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Displaying 1 - 38 of 38 records
PhotoFamily nameFirst namesForceWarsService # 
C76292EdwardsWillieArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820640 
C76314MatehaereTu HawaikiArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820611 
C76305HoromonaRewiArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820642 
C76306JacksonCharlesArmyWorld War I, 1914-191830138 
C76320RoganRichardArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820675 
C76324TawharaManueraArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820674 
C64067HawiraRangi LouisArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/1302 
C76294Eru ToeFredArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820632 
C76337WrightBarneyArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820686 
C76309KellyHarryArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820638 
C76287AgassizLouisArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820649 
C76289BarrettHenryArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820666 
C76296HaoraJohnArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820647 
C76308KeepaHamiArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820682 
C50522MatuiTaurangaArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/667 
C76327TekiTureiArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820629 
C64075KakeJackArmyWorld War I, 1914-1918, World War II, 1939-194516/1293, 800056 
C76290BrownWilliamArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820648 
C52696PawhauHenareArmyWorld War I, 1914-1918, World War II, 1939-194516/825, 801447 
C76331WalkerRobertArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820652 
C76301HeperiRichardArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820623 
C33980KopungaitiTauArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/1207 
C76288ApanuiParoaArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820610 
C76307KariniToiArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820680 
C76281KohiWilliam TakoroArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820644 
C34440MorehuJohnArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/374 
C64056AndersonAndrewArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/1252 
C76317RamekaGeorgeArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820676 
C56559TaipariThomasArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/991 
C76279HoriKereopaArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820673 
C76310KepaPeraArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820646 
C8157KempKawenataArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820678 
C13308RuhaJohnArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820630 
C16856WikiFrankArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820665 
C15988TukiManuArmyWorld War I, 1914-191820616 
C33976AngeneAngeneArmyWorld War I, 1914-1918, World War II, 1939-194516/1205 
C72731HaleNathanielArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/1486 
C64141ItaakaSolomonArmyWorld War I, 1914-191816/1033 

Further reading: 

Soutar, Monty. (2019). Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E! Māori in the First World War. David Bateman. 

Pugsley, C. (1995). Te Hokowhitu a tu: The Māori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War. Reed Books. 

1917: Arras, Messines and Passchendale - NZ History.  

What New Zealanders Left Behind in Arras, France - WW100

The Underground War  - Auckland War Memorial Museum

New Zealand Tunnelling Corps, Otago Daily Times, 27 July 1917, Papers Past, 

Journey to Arras - A five part Documentary - NZ on Screen

New Zealand Tunnellers 

La Carriere Wellington 

Arras Tunnel, Pukeahu National War Memorial Park - Ministry for Culture and Heritage