NGARIMU, Second Lieutenant Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, V.C.
Maori Victoria Cross winner.
A new biography of Ngarimu, Te Moananui-a-Kiwa appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Ngarimu was born on 7 April 1919 at Whareponga (the ancient seat of the Aitanga-a-mate, subtribe of the Ngati Porou) north of Waipiro Bay where his father, Hamiera Ngarimu, an important chief of the Ngati Porou, had a sheep station. On his mother's side he was descended from the Whanau-a-Apanui tribe – from Toi. Ngarimu was educated at Whareponga, at Hirukirama Native School and, finally, at Te Aute College, where he gained a reputation for rugby and sport. In 1935 he began working on his father's sheep-station, and two years later he represented the East Coast in rugby. On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Maori Battalion, and on 1 May 1940 sailed with the Second Echelon of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was commissioned on Anzac Day 1942, and served as an intelligence officer until he was called upon to command a platoon of C Company (Ngati Porou) of the Maori Battalion.
During the action at the Tebaga Gap on 26 March 1943, Ngarimu commanded his platoon in an attack upon the vital hill feature, Point 209. He was ordered to attack and capture an under feature which was held in considerable strength by the enemy. Of this attack the citation to his posthumous Victoria Cross says: “He led his men with great determination and skill straight up the face of the hill, undeterred by the intense mortar and machine-gun fire which caused considerable casualties. Displaying courage and leadership of the highest order he was himself first on the hill crest, personally annihilating at least two enemy machine gun posts….” All through that night Ngarimu, although severely wounded, defended the position and, on the following morning, 27 March 1943, he was killed when the enemy made a particularly strong counter attack. On 1 June 1943 the King awarded Ngarimu the coveted Victoria Cross. He was the first Maori to receive this honour.
In commemoration of this exploit the Ngarimu V.C. and 28th Maori Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund was inaugurated in 1945.
by Robert Ritchie Alexander, M.A., DIP.ED.(N.Z.), B.T.(CALCUTTA), PH.D.(MINNESOTA), Teachers' Training College, Christchurch.
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 1 June 1943
- (Citation);Miscellaneous MSS Folder R. 11, Turnbull Library.