Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Labour—Ikaroa-Rāwhiti)
: I seek to move a non-debatable motion relating to the passing of Major Hone Hikitia Te Rangi Waititi QSO, JP.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being followed? There is none.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Ka whakatau ahau, Kia arongia e te Whare tēnei, arā,kua rere atu a Hone Hikitia Te Rangi Waititi QSO, tētahi o ngā tino pakeke o tātou, te rangatira mōrehu o Te Rōpū Māori e 28, ā, ngauhia ana ō tātou ngākau puta noa te motu e tēnei ngaronga, tangi ana hoki.
That the House note that Hone Hikitia Te Rangi Waititi QSO, one of our great elders, an esteemed survivor of the 28th Māori Battalion, has passed on, and that Māoridom throughout the nation feel this loss and grieve as well.]
Major John Waititi was the last surviving company commander of the 28th Māori Battalion, in C Company. He fought in World War II, and was well respected and loved by his company. He was a humble man with strong leadership characteristics. He went to Te Aute College from 1935 to 1938. While over in Italy he was wounded three times. From there, the company moved on to fight in North Africa and Italy. Major Waititi said the comradeship of C Company was cemented on the battlefield of about a dozen battlefields, from Olympus Pass to Cassino: “You develop this closeness because you realise if it wasn’t for your mates, then you might have lost your own life. They were there to cover me. I covered them. These things are set aside as being sacred to us, particularly those relating to the men who died.”
Following Major Hone Waititi’s return to New Zealand, he was elected president of the Māori Battalion. He and his first wife, Mataku Allison, farmed at Te Waiti. Much later in life he married his current wife, Judy Clifford-Waititi, and they have two children, Kahurangi and Haimoana.
Major John Waititi looked after his men when they returned, creating employment opportunities and doing what he could to support them to return to life back in New Zealand. I had the privilege of attending his 90th birthday. He was a rare breed and a special man. He will be sorely missed by all Māoridom and New Zealanders generally. He has returned to his ancestral marae of Kauaetangohia, in Cape Runaway, where he will lie in state until Thursday.