Brother of Henare Kohere (16/1018)
Tawhai is the youngest son of Henarata Bristlow and Hone Hiki Kohere, and grandson of Mokena Kohere. Attended Te Aute College, like his older brothers, Reweti, Pohipi, and Henare.
Attested in Te Araroa, he was promoted to acting Corporal March 1916, confirmed April 1916; reverted to rank Private on own request.
Attested as Tawhai Kohere. Former servicemen's rehabilitaion files listed as Ian Tawhai Kura Kohere. Death registration listed as Tawhai Mokena Kohere.
Throughout the First World War Private Tawhai wrote letters home to his mother, the first letter is dated August 20th, 1915 and is follows - "I hope you and yourself again. I am very well, though in contant danger every day. Your letters have come. So you have another son (Lieut. Henare Kohere) on his way to the front, where many another mother's son is fighting for a righteous cause. You should feel it an honor to have two sons on active service; in fact, you should be happy till the end of your days. Be brave! the day will come when we shall meet again. Don't save any of the money I send you - never mind me - I have yet life before me. I suppose your grandchildren are growing. My love to them. My thoughts often wander back to the old spots - Rangiata and Tarata. May God preserve us till me meet again (Sankey 494). - Your Benjamin on active service, T. M. Kohere"
A second letter dated September 1st, 1915 is as follows, "I got your letter and Poi's yesterday. I wrote you andother letter last month when I received the news that Harry was on his way to the front. I feel for his children Mother, I want you to be brave and strong - you have your grandchildren to comfort you. There's time for everything thing, and your two sons have thought is a time for making sacrifices. Of course I know you are suffering more than we do - the suffering is all on your part--but, we be brave; there's a rejoicing coming. I am cheered to hear you are all very well. The survivours of the Maori Contingent have been merged into the New Zealand Brigade, who have been terribly cut up. We still, of course, retain our name - Maori Contingent. The units on arrival of the reinforcements, will be reorganised. Half of our contingent are sick, wounded, or killed; the other half are still keeping the fires buring on the slopes of Gallipoli. Enoka (Enoka Potae, 16/81) and I were in the second big attack - we were with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. It was a fierce attack - bullets showered like rain and shrapnels were bursting in all directions. I can't describe to you my feelings when we were charging. This time we attacked in broad daylight. The attack was heralded by the booming of the guns. It was fearful. we took two trenches - then the enemy fled. About half our number reached our objective. For three days we had to hand on the positions we had taken before we could be relieved. We then fell back to take breath. The water carriers were unable to bring us water while we were hanging on to our position, and I would have given anything for a drink of water then. However, we were all thankful to God for seeing us through this fight."
Both of these letters written to his mother Henarata Kohere were published in the Hawera and Normanby Star, 5 November 1915 AWMM