Te Hokinga Mai Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū
Look at the smiling soldiers, jam-packed along the ship’s rail, the Māori Pioneer Battalion is home at last.
After a 36-day journey from Liverpool, the SS Westmoreland arrived in Auckland harbour on the evening of Saturday 5 April 1919. It berthed the following morning and 1,033 personnel disembarked to great fanfare – guns fired a salute, all the ships in the harbour sounded their sirens and horns, three bands played patriotic music and dignitaries greeted the men with brief speeches.
Renowned Te Arawa leader Mita Taupopoki can be seen with his distinctive tāniko bonnet towards the end of the film clip. One of the haka being performed is the Ngāpuhi war cry “Ka eke te wīwī, ka eke te wāwā” – complete with the leaping in unison and brandishing of taiaha and tewhatewha fighting staffs.
Following the reception at the wharf the Battalion marched to a pōwhiri at Auckland Domain. Tribes from all over the country gathered to welcome the men home, along with thousands of spectators.
Of the 43,572 servicemen and nurses who returned home in 63 demobilisation sailings, only the Māori Pioneer Battalion returned together, as a complete unit.
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.
"Advance, Australia Fair"
Written by Scottish-born composer Peter Dodds McCormick and first performed in1878, Advance Australia Fair was officially declared the national anthem by the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, on 19 April 1984. This version is one of the earliest recordings, thought to be made in 1915, when Australian troops were landing in Egypt.
Despite it’s status as the official national anthem, Waltzing Matilda (1895), a more uplifting tune with lyrics by Banjo Paterson telling the story of a criminal stealing a sheep, is still widely regarded as Australia’s ‘unofficial’ national anthem.
The turkey, the eagle, the lion and the dove
'The War Zoo' is the original title of this animated cartoon by the renowned Australian caricaturist Harry Julius. The miserable fez-wearing turkey represents the battered Turkish forces. The ferocious German eagle is approached by the ‘dove of peace’ and the British lion, ‘still the king of all’. Cartoons like this one, screened about 1915, were a direct and light-hearted form of war news and propaganda for the public at home.
Sheep dogs & medieval knights, Australian Gazette
From a sheepdog trial to a costume parade in support of the French Red Cross – the weekly Australian Gazette newsreel captured a slice of Australian life through the war years.
This example from mid-1915 starts with a sheepdog trial at a showground, followed by shots of the British barque Inverness-Shire, dismasted by wild weather off the coast of Tasmania. The third segment (unfortunately damaged by deterioration of the nitrate film) records a parade heading down Collins St in Melbourne in aid of the French Red Cross. The clip ends with the mammoth funeral procession in Sydney for the great Australian batsman Victor Trumper.