MAORIS IN UNIFORM
Although an official account has never been taken, it is estimated unofficially that between thirty and forty per cent of the regular Army is composed of Maoris and part Maoris. Many enter for the adventure which the short three year engagement (which often includes two years in Malaya) offers. Others are attracted by the security and opportunities for advancement offered by a long term career, and sign on for the longer engagements.
As Good As His Ancestors
The young Maori of today makes as good a soldier as his ancestors ever did. He is aggressive and enterprising and generally settles well into the disciplined, ordered existence of military life. There are no exclusively Maori units in the New Zealand forces and officers regard this for the best. They say a mixed unit is better than an all-Pakeha (or all-Maori) unit. The Maoris contribute dash, elan and robust good humour. The Pakeha soldier is more phlegmatic and often more consistent in his approach to training. Race relations are excellent. For both groups it is generally their first experience of working and living with one another in large numbers and in conditions of very close proximity. Maori clubs formed for social and cultural purposes often attract Pakeha membership, and friendships begun in barracks and training fields are fostered and cemented.
Opportunities for Furthering Education
The Regular Force Cadets, which boys enter at the age of 15, has a number of Maori lads from all over New Zealand, who are attracted by the exceptional opportunities for securing apprenticeships, or for furthering their education to School Certificate or University Entrance standard at the Army's own secondary school. (This is staffed by fully qualified teachers and run as part of the Regular Force Cadet unit at Waiouru.)
The Battalion in Malaya holds a special interest for many young men, offering as it does travel and conditions of service often more varied and exciting than those at home. For the boy who is lacking in formal educational qualifications there is often the opportunity to study further, and to enter trades and occupations within the Army which would not readily be open to him in civilian life.
The comparatively small number of Maoris who leave school with School Certificate and University Entrance is, however, causing the Army the same concern as it is employers in other fields. With so many young Maoris in the private soldier and NCO brackets, there should be a much higher proportion of Maoris commissioned as officers. Many men with the necessary qualifications seem to prefer teaching, Maori welfare, and associated occupations where they consider they can be of more benefit to others of their race. Yet with so many Maoris of an impressionable age in the Army, Maori officers can have a tremendous influence in helping and steadying young men of their own race.
Several young Maoris have graduated re-
Officers at Present in Malaya
The padre and four of the officers with the battalion at present in Malaya are Maoris. The padre, Captain Whakahuihui Vercoe will be well-known to many readers. Two of the officers are brothers—Captain J. P. and 2nd Lieutenant T. D. Brosnahan. The others are 2nd Lieutenant N. A. Kotua of Nelson, and 2nd Lieutenant A. R. Kiwi of Raurimu. General Thornton's present aide-de-camp is a Duntroon Maori graduate, Lieutenant T. D. MacFarlane.
Minimum educational qualification for officers is School Certificate, or in the case of Duntroon, University Entrance. After passing a Regular Officer Selection Board they are selected to carry out either the one year course at Portsea, the four year course at the Royal Military College of Duntroon (Australia), or the two year course at Sandhurst in the United Kingdom. Cadets from Portsea and Sandhurst in the United Kingdom graduate as 2nd Lieutenants and those from Duntroon as Lieutenants. Applications for cadetships are accepted not only from serving members of the forces but also from men in civilian occupations and boys finishing school.
Although several Maoris are currently carrying out officer training, the over-all number in the Army is still small. For young Maoris who can meet the exacting standards, the Army offers a worthwhile career of service.
These three Maori soldiers swept the board in the 100 metres backstroke event during the recent Commonwealth Army swimming championships in Malaya. Here Lance Corporal N. Armstrong (New Plymouth) congratulates the winner, Private E. A. Morrison (Rotorua). Looking on are, from left, Privates D. K. P. Kingi (Carterton) who was second and P. Tau (Christchurch) who was third.