NZ Jews thank Sir Robert Gillies and Māori Battalion

Media release

NZ Jews thank Sir Robert Gillies and Māori Battalion

“New Zealand Jews and Jews worldwide owe much gratitude to Sir Robert Gillies and his comrades of the 28th Māori Battalion for their contribution and sacrifice during World War 2,” said president of the NZ Jewish Council Stephen Goodman today.

“We thank them for the bravery and dedication which, as part of the NZ and Allied armed forces, they brought to defeating the Nazi and Fascist forces who had overwhelmed the whole of Europe and were threatening further expansion.”

Mr Goodman pointed out that six million European and North African Jews – one third of the total world Jewish population at that time – were killed during the Nazi German genocide.

Sir Apirana Ngata is quoted as saying:  “A lot of our men, they never got recognised for the work they did. A lot of them did a lot of work in the war. But, you know, they just carried on.”

“Sometimes I wonder now what it was all for. We stopped the tyranny of Hitler at the time, I suppose. But I wonder if the world is really a better place for the cost of all our boys.”

Mr Goodman said that ending Hitler’s tyranny in 1945, as well as ending the European theatre of war action, put an end to the oppression and murder of Jews, Poles, Romani (Gypsy), disabled and homosexual people, and political dissidents.

This made the world a better place particularly for the Jewish people, helping their survival and eventual revival.

“We recognise and thank the Māori people wholeheartedly for their contribution,” Mr Goodman concluded.

For more information please contact Juliet Moses, NZ Jewish Council spokesperson (phone 021 944 628)

Note: Of the roughly 3,600 members of the 28th Māori Battalion, 649 were killed in action during 1941-45.