'A Company' aim to have battalion book finished by February

By D'Angelo Martin

Descendants of soldiers of the Māori Battalion's A Company gathered in Auckland today to honour their ancestors' sacrifices.  Some of their stories remain untold and families, who were present at the Ōrākei RSA, have begun the process of capturing the stories and whakapapa for a company book so that their memories may live on.

Ron Baker, who was on the taumata kōrero today, says, "The stories that will be told today are both from during and after the war, to connect those from Ngāti Whātua to Whangarei to Muriwhenua, the main areas that make up A Company."

This was the third 'show and tell' hui that's taken place, following this there will be the last gathering next month, where they will then start to piece together the book.

"There were a total of 970 who were a part of the A Company of the 28th Māori Battalion so that means there should be 970 stories yet to be told," says Baker.

One story that was told today was about Thomas Ruka, father of Millan Ruka, who was captured in Austria. Millan was able to learn more about his father through the telling of this story, which will be one of many that will be added to the book. 

Millan Ruka says, "You wouldn't believe it but less than two weeks ago I got this photo back, the registration that was dad's number as a prisoner of war in Austria and they don't go by his name. So by having that tag and his number we were able to obtain his photo, looked pretty happy to be captured I think at that time."

The book will be published in February next year at the Museum of Waitangi.