Back

Māori and Pākehā on the Western Front

George Puhi Nicholas served in World War I with the Māori Pioneer Battalion in northern France and Bob Robertson, a Pākehā, with the 6th Hauraki Regiment. In a joint radio interview recorded in 1985 they compare notes on their memories of the trenches, the bad food, the lice and the mates they lost.

Year:1917-1918 (Recorded in 1985)

Location:Western Front, France

Close

Māori and Pākehā on the Western Front

George Puhi Nicholas served in World War I with the Māori Pioneer Battalion in northern France and Bob Robertson, a Pākehā, with the 6th Hauraki Regiment. In a joint radio interview recorded in 1985 they compare notes on their memories of the trenches, the bad food, the lice and the mates they lost.


Year: 1917-1918 (Recorded in 1985)

Length: 9:24

Production Company: Radio New Zealand

Credits: Producer: Haare Williams

Source: Ngā Taonga Kōrero Collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: 43459 He rerenga kōrero 1985-04-25


People: George Puhi Nicholas (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Haua, Ngāti Ruanui), Bob Robertson, Haare Williams

Location: Western Front, France


Image Title: Māori Pioneers help demolish a shelled building at Le Quesnoy, 1918

Image Source: Richard Stowers Collection


In 1983, two elderly New Zealand veterans of World War I met at the Returned Services Association clubrooms in Tauranga. After talking for a while they realised they had first encountered each other 65 years earlier, outside the French walled town of Le Quesnoy, which was taken from the Germans by New Zealand forces in November 1918. 

In this excerpt from a radio programme recorded with them by broadcaster Haare Williams, George and Bob compare notes on their experiences in the Pioneers and the Haurakis, and remember how they coped with lice, trench foot, bad food and the loss of friends.  George says a poroporoaki (farewell) in te reo Māori to his former comrades.