LOVE, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Te Whiti Rongomai
Commander of the 28th (Maori) Battalion.
A new biography of Love, Eruera Te Whiti o Rongomai appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Edward Love was born on 18 May 1905 at Picton, one of the six sons of Wi Hape Pakau Love and of Ripaka, daughter of Paati Tauwhare Matene, a chief of Te Ati Awa. Before he joined the forces Love was an Associate and Interpreter of the Native Land Court and was studying law at Victoria University College. He was also a Territorial officer and company commander of the 1st Battalion, City of Wellington's Own Regiment.
Colonel Love was associated with the 28th (Maori) Battalion from its beginning in 1939, and was company commander of Headquarters Company. He served in Greece and Crete and was with the battalion during the grim fighting at Thermopylae. In November 1941 he had temporary command of the battalion, which he led in two successful operations, but while he was reorganising Headquarters Company at Pirgos he was wounded. In March 1942 he rejoined the battalion as second in command and on 13 May 1942 he was promoted to the command, being the first Maori to achieve this honour. Love returned with the battalion to the Western Desert. Mainly because of Love's able leadership the battalion suffered comparatively few casualties in the break through at Abu Batta. On 12 July 1942, during the attack on Ruiweisat Ridge, Colonel Love, with his Adjutant, drove up to see how the men were faring. A shell burst near their car, mortally wounding Love, who died that night. He was buried in Egypt at the El Alamein Military Cemetery.
On 17 September 1928, at “Taputapuatea”, Tokuvaine, Rarotonga, Love married Tokau Margaret Tinirau Rio Makea, the Makea Nui Ariki (paramount chieftainess) of Rarotonga. Margaret Love died at Rarotonga in September 1947.
by Robert Ritchie Alexander, M.A., DIP.ED.(N.Z.), B.T.(CALCUTTA), PH.D.(MINNESOTA), Teachers' Training College, Christchurch.
- The Price of Citizenship, Ngata, A. T. (1943)
- 28th Maori Battalion, Cody, J. F. (1957)
- Evening Post, 17 Jul 1942 (Obit).