condensed discuss document expanded export feedback print share remove reset document_white enquire_white export_white report_white

Hirini Heke

Portrait, Northland roll of honour and servicemen of WW II (2002) - This image may be subject to copyright

Portrait, Northland roll of honour and servicemen of WW II (2002) - This image may be subject to cop …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Hirini AWMM
  • Surname
    Heke AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Heki AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII 39318 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

Contribute ›
  • Birth
    1912 AWMM AwaruaNorthland AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 Unknown AWMM Pipiwai, Whangarei, North Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mr R.H. Heke (father), Awarua, Kaikohe, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

Contribute ›
  • War
  • Campaign
    Western Desert AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII 39318 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

Contribute ›
  • Medals and Awards

Training and Enlistment

Contribute ›

Prisoner of war

Contribute ›
  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

Contribute ›
  • Medical notes
    Killed in Action, Cause of Death AWMM

Last known rank

Contribute ›

Biographical information

Biographical information

Contribute ›
  • Hirini Heke was the son of Rehopoama and Heti Heke of Kaikohe. One of a large family he appears to have been a minister at Pipiwai near Whangarei. A memorial in his honour exists there.

    Before going overseas he worked for Mr Alison of Pakotai, and was a keen member of the Pakotai Rangers' football team.

    Corporal Heke was killed in the attack on El Mreir on 21/22 July 1942.

    Name listed in the Auckland Museum. Roll of Honour, Auckland Province, 1939 - 1945 as Hirini Heki. During 1941 and 1942 North Africa was the scene of much military activity as the war raged in Egypt, Syria and Libya.In the Western Desert the 7th Armoured Division was being re-equipped and preparations were being made for a fresh drive westwards to recapture Cyrenaica and relieve Tobruk.As a result of the fighting during May, the Germans established themselves at the Halfaya Pass, which they proceeded to prepare for defence. Although the two armoured brigades of the 7th Armoured Division were both lacking one regiment, and although they were equipped with different types of tanks whose actions could not easily be co-ordinated, an offensive was launched on 15 June 1941.One column advanced along the coast towards Sollum, while a second, climbing the escarpment to the south, moved along it, occupied Capuzzo and was intended to take Halfaya with the aid of the coastal force.A third column still farther south was to protect the left flank and threaten the rear and supply columns of the Axis armies.On 15 and 16 June progress was fairly satisfactory, although neither Sollum nor Halfaya was taken;but on 17 a critical situation developed, when strong enemy columns advanced southwards from Bardia and eastwards from south-west of Capuzzo, from Sidi Omar. Operations came to a standstill for some months following this brief sally, recommencing in November. The early strages of the battle were fought out between 30th Corps and the German and Italian armoured forces in the vicinity of Sidi Rezegh, south-east of Tobruk, on the desert track known as the Trigh Capuzzo. The New Zealand Division and the Tobruk garrison had been making headway in the vicinity of Sidi Rezegh. On the night of 25/26 November the New Zealand Division captured that much-disputed point, and the following night saw the first contact between the Tobruk garrison and the Eighth Army.This had caused the Germans to call back their armour from its thrust into Egypt, and by the afternoon of the 28th it was obvious that the positions held by the New Zealand Division would be strongly assaulted.The expected attack came the following day, and as a result the Sidi Rezegh ridge fell once more into the hands of the Germans, the 6 New Zealand Brigade being overwhelmed by superior numbers on 30 November. The New Zealand Division had by now suffered very heavy casualties and was withdrawn to the Egyptian frontier which it reached on 2 December. February, March and April of 1942 were taken up with preparations for the defence of Tobruk, with the consolidation of the Gazala line as a secure base from which it might be launched.The offensive began on 26 May. The Eighth Army had not held a continuous front over the forty miles from Gazala to Bir Hakeim, but rather a series of strong points, known as 'boxes', protected by a deep minefield. Fierce fighting took place in June. During the month of July, both sides were occupied in bringing up reinforcements and in strengthening their positions.The Eighth Army Commander, realising that Rommel's supply lines must be extended to their limit and that in spite of their successes, the Germans had suffered considerable casualties and were weary, was determined not to yield another inch, but to maintain pressure and to attack wherever opportunity offered - a policy which resulted in some fierce fighting.By the end of July the Eighth Army had not only prevented further enemy advance but had improved their own position, having gained a notable advantage by taking the mounds at Tell el Eisa, on the railway just west of El Alamein, besides valuable ground on the Ruweisat Ridge in the centre of the front.After the end of July no fighting of importance took place on the Alamein front. Next of kin details compiled from information in the Casualty lists published in the newspapers. AWMM
Read more


About death

Contribute ›
  • Death
    22 July 1942 AWMM
    Age 29 AWMM
    Western DesertNorth Africa AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
    Hirini's obituary says 'Mr R.H. Heke, of Awarua has received word that his son Lance Corporal Hirini Heke was killed in action on July 23.Lance-Corporal Heke, who is single, was born in Awarua in 1912, and before going overseas worked for Mr Alison of Pakotai.He sailed with the 2nd Echelon.He was a keen member of the Pakotai Rangers' football team.' AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



Contribute ›
  • Memorial name
    • Alamein Memorial, El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt AWMM
    • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories AWMM

Roll of Honour

Remember Hirini Heke by laying a poppy.

Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of Hirini Heke

Leave a note

Contribute ›
  • I am the great grand nephew of Hirini Heke. He is the brother to my great grandfather Remana Heke. My father Quigg Heke is his nephew. My great grand uncle was in the 28th Maori Battalion along with many of my other relatives from my mother's side. He received Medals which are presently worn by his name sake Hirini Henare from Motatau. I never knew my great Uncle Hirini but I can see him in my father Quigg Heke. He is the image of my dad. He fought for us and our country, I hope many of us younger generation will remember them and that their death was not invain. Mahiapoake Heke
    Public - Mahiapoake Remana - Other Relative - 22 April 2015



Contribute ›
  • External links
  • Documents
    • Northland roll of honour and servicemen of WW II [electronic resource]. (2002). Whangarei, N.Z.: Returned Services Association. AWMM
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 2 (Embarkations to 30th June, 1940). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 2: WW2 83 AWMM
    • Northland roll of honour and servicemen of WW II [electronic resource]. (2002). Whangarei, N.Z.: Returned Services Association. AWMM
    • Cody, J. (1956). 28 (Maori) Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM


Command item
Command item
Add new record Refresh
DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
22 April 2015Mahiapoake RemanaAuckland, NZOther Relative

The development of the Online Cenotaph is an ongoing process; updates, new images and records are added weekly. In some cases, records have yet to be confirmed by Museum staff, and there could be mistakes or omissions in the information provided.

Creative Commons License Online Cenotaph Data by Auckland War Memorial Museum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License