Remembering Epineha Ratapu as new appointments are made to Ngārimu Scholarship Fund Board

Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui a Tāne

E Epineha. Ka tangi te iwi, ki a koe e ngaro nei i te kitenga kanohi. Kua mokemoke to whānau, to iwi, te motu whanui. Haere ki o matua, tipuna. Haere ki te okiokinga tuturu mo te tangata. Haere i runga i te aroha o ngā reanga kei muri i a koe.

Haere ki te Po! Haere ki te Po!

Hon Kelvin Davis acknowledges the passing of veteran, Epineha Ratapu, who has died aged 98.

Epineha was one of the last few remaining members of the Māori Battalion who saw action in Italy, the Middle East and Japan.

Epineha served in the battalion's C Company which comprised members from the Tairāwhiti/East Coast region.

He will be remembered and sorely missed by the Board members, the education whānau and generations of Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori Battalion) Scholarship recipients.

New appointments

The Governor-General has made six appointments to the Ngārimu VC and 28th Māori Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Board. Hon Kelvin Davis chairs the Board in his role as Associate Minister of Education.

Ngārimu VC & 28th Māori Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund Board has a rich history of providing scholarships to support future Māori leaders in their academic studies, which will continue with the mix of skills the new members bring. The Board was set up in 1945 to support Māori in education, and promote the study of te reo Māori, Māori history, tradition and culture. Members of Parliament representing the Maori electoral districts, the Minister for Māori Development, and the Secretary for Education are standing members.

Five of the appointed Board members will serve a second term;

  • Dr Te Tuhi Robust, A Company Representative
  • Dr Monty Soutar, C Company representative
  • Dr Melanie Riwai-Couch, D Company representative
  • Associate Professor Linda Te Aho, past scholarship winner representative; and
  • Mr Phillip Heeney, Ngārimu whānau representative. 

Dr Te Tuhi Robust - Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou – has had more than 30 years of experience in various education sector roles, retiring from the role of Associate Professor Tai Tokerau, Te Whare Wānanga Awanuiārangi in 2019. Dr Robust is connected to the Māori Battalion through his father who was a member of A Company.

Dr Soutar ONZM - Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngai Tai, Ngati Kahungunu - is an expert in Māori history and the Māori Battalion, particularly C Company, and has also served in the New Zealand Army. He is a current member of the Waitangi Tribunal. His latest publication, Whitiki! (2019) focused on Māori participation in World War I.

Dr Riwai-Couch - Rāngitāne ki Wairau, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Apa ki te Tō - is an education consultant based in Christchurch. She has an excellent knowledge of Māori language and tikanga, and a strong commitment to Māori education. Her links to the Māori Battalion are with D Company through an uncle who was a member.

Associate Professor Te Aho - Ngāti Korokī Kahukura and Ngāti Mahuta - has shown commitment and service to Māori education, within the Law faculty and as Associate Dean Māori at Waikato University. She is fluent in te reo and tikanga Māori. Her father-in-law was a Major in C Company.

Mr Heeney - Ngāti Porou - is a descendant of Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu VC, is well recognised as a professional leader in Māori medium education. He has particular expertise in mathematics and science, and has supported kura kaupapa Māori throughout the country to build their teaching expertise in these areas. He is the Principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiū o Ngāti Porou.

A new member has been appointed to represent B Company, replacing Lt Col (Retd) Graham Vercoe QSM who has stepped down from the board after ten years.

Dr Reuben Collier MNZM - Ngāti Porou, Rereahu-Maniapoto - is the new representative for B Company. He is an experienced businessman running his own television production company since 2007. He sits on the Board of the Māori Television Service and he has made telling stories of Māori experience of WWII a major part of his life’s work. Dr Collier has family connections to both B and C Company, in particular Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu of C Company, the first Māori soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Minister Davis and the Board have thanked Lt Col (Retd) Graham Vercoe for his significant contribution over his decade of service. While he was a member he supported the B Company History Project and the publication of the book Ake Ake Kia Kaha E! Forever Brave: B Company 28th (Māori) Battalion 1939-1945 by Sir Wira Gardiner.

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