A Carefully Arranged Propaganda Exercise
Keeping his father’s promise that his eldest son and heir would visit “when peace comes”, Edward Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), undertook a tour of the Dominions to thank them for their effort and participation in World War One.
The Prince spent a month in Aotearoa, arriving in Auckland onboard the Renown. He toured the country in a lavishly decorated train and by motor coach. In total he visited 50 towns and cities between Auckland and Invercargill. The “dashing playboy” was mobbed by enthusiastic crowds wherever he went and is said to have shaken more than 20,000 hands.
In Auckland the Prince is presented with the 'Freedom of the City' by the Mayor and is given a guard of honour by returned soldiers. In Rotorua, guided by Māui Pōmare, the Prince shakes hands with members of Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū – the Māori Pioneer Battalion. Later he attended a huge reception at the Racecourse.
Singing about Niuean soldiers who volunteered
The song ‘Lologo tau kautau Niue ne oatu he Felakutau Fakamua he Lalolagi’ was sung by the men from the Pacific island of Niue who volunteered to join New Zealand’s Māori Contingent in 1916. They served in France alongside Maori troops in the newly formed Pioneer Battalion, and suffered greatly from conditions colder than they had ever imagined.
Māori and Pacific Islanders march to war
On Saturday 5 February 1916, the 3rd Māori Contingent of Reinforcements and others made their way from Parliament along Lambton Quay to their departure point at Wellington’s waterfront. Members of the Māori Contingent are easily identified by their uniform of pith helmet, shorts, putties (a long strip of cloth around the lower leg) and lack of ammunition pouches, which distinguished them from the ‘lemon squeezer’ hat and full uniform of the other troops. The idea of engaging in a battle in foreign lands so far from home must have raised excitement as well as doubt as the Māori Contingent headed for the challenge and conflict of World War One.
Troops from several South Pacific countries formed part of the 3rd Maori Contingent. Among them was Sergeant-Major Uea of Lalofetau, Niue. He had helped to encourage support for the war effort and was the oldest of the Niuean volunteers who sailed that day.