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Whakahōnoretanga mahi

We take pride in honouring our veterans and their service. We contribute to research and the recording of our history, as part of the history of New Zealand and upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We conduct commemorative activities and maintain and advise on policy to support New Zealand to honour its Defence Force veterans in a way that respects their service, including with medallic recognition, and upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We support state ceremonial activities and high-level official visits and undertake the researching and recording of the New Zealand Defence Force history as part of the wider history of New Zealand.



Te Rau Aroha

The Gift of Love

In addition to supporting annual official commemorations to mark the service and sacrifice of the New Zealand armed forces, our Defence Force also supports one-off events of national significance.

One of the most moving and spectacular events was Te Rau Aroha, The Gift of Love, a unique evening ceremony held on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on 5 February 2020, on the 180th anniversary of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The occasion coincided with the opening of Te Rau Aroha Museum at Waitangi, which tells the story of Māori military service, with a special emphasis on A Company 28 (Maori) Battalion during the Second World War. Fittingly, during the ceremony pride of place was given to another Te Rau Aroha, the 28 (Maori) Battalion canteen truck which was given to the battalion by the children of the Native Schools of New Zealand.

Dame Patsy Reddy inspects the tri-service guard of honour at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds A tri service royal guard of honour marches onto the Waitangi Treaty Grounds The New Zealand Defence force Māori Cultural Group with Dame Patsy Reddy at the 2020 Waitangi commemorations.

Performed before a large audience which included the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, Service chiefs and the Waitangi National Trust Board, the evening programme featured drill and ceremonial activity by a hundred-strong Navy, Army and Air Force Royal Guard. This was followed by a retelling of the story of Māori military service through words, poetry, music and waiata, supported by the screening of historic film and photographs.

Come to me, go from me, my letter of love to my parents…Goodbye to all at home…For the order has come that we are to move to the forefront of the battle, to enter the scorching flame of the firing line…Love to you…and to all the home people”

Private Huirua Rewha of the Maori Contingent to his parents, May 1915.

The central theme throughout was aroha, the spirit of love in all its forms, and how it was and is sustained, both at home and on the battlefield, for this lies at the heart of the service and sacrifice of Māori military service. It was also about the partnership forged by the Treaty, which finds expression in the blend of European and Māori kawa and tikanga in the modern Defence Force and is the source of our strength.

2,200 Māori served in the New Zealand Maori (Pioneer) Battalion in the First World War, and 3,600 in 28 (Maori) Battalion in the Second World War. During both wars many more served in other parts of the armed forces