home | honour roll | people | deployment | operations
stories | sitemap | links

Major General
Brian Matauru Poananga

who as Lieutenant Colonel Poananga (affectionately known as Uncle Po), commanded the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment from late1965 until late1967. 1 RNZIR was stationed in Malaysia.

In 1967 the original Victor Company was formed from within 1 RNZIR, as an independent company group, for service in Vietnam.

(click for enlargement)


This poupou [post], carved in the symbolic likeness of the late Major General Brian Matauru Poananga, is the potokomanawa [heartpost or main post] in Te Whare Tu Taua o Tumatauenga. Te Whare Tu Taua o Tumatauenga is the wharenui or carved and embellished meeting house on the Marae of the New Zealand Army.

The marae is the sacred meeting place of the Maori people and usually comprises a sacred courtyard, a carved and embellished sacred meeting house (symbolically representing an ancestor figure), a dining hall and kitchen, and ablutions.

The New Zealand Army Marae is called Rongomaraeroa o Nga Hau e Wha, meaning Rongomaraeroa [of the Peoples] of the Four Winds. It is at Waiouru on the central plateau of the North Island.

Tumatauenga and Rongomaraeroa are spiritual ancestors of the Maori; Tumatauenga is associated with War, and Rongomaraeroa with Peace. Since 1995 the New Zealand Army has been called Ngati Tumatauenga, or the tribe of Tumatauenga.

This poutokomanawa was carved in memory of the New Zealand Army's highest ranked Maori soldier, and the first Maori to be Chief of the General Staff.

A Biography (click here)
Brian Poananga's tribute to his battalion

He Tangi mo nga Rangatira
(A traditional lament for chiefs of Gen Poananga's tribe)

A tatau korero hoki ra, e aue i,
I nui o rangi ra,
He mea kia mahue, e aue i.
Ka kitea rikiriki,
Ka ngaro hoki ra, e aue i,
Nga waha ki, nga hautu o te waka,
I hoea ai te moana;
Hei whakapuru atu ra, e aue i,
Mo nga tai kino, mo nga tai marangai,
Ka puta ki waho ra.
Taua mai ra tatau e, e aue i,
Ki tau nei ki a Marewa-i-te-ata,
I maunu atu ai e, e aue i,
Te taniwha i tona rua , i.

Ah me, the speeches we made
In those honourable days of yore,
Now comes it I am all alone.
Looking about me in vain,
Gone forever are the
Orators, and the fugle-men of the canoe,
Who voyaged across the ocean;
Ye who did plug securely against
The flood tides of stormy weather,
When they threatened from without.
Let us now all foregather (and)
Chant the lay of Marewa-i-te-ata,
Which was the accompaniment of the exit
Of the dreaded dragon from its lair.

He mihi aroha tenei ki a koe te tino rangatira; no reira, moe mai koe i te rangimarie - rest in peace great chief.

Photograph courtesy of Lt Col (Retd) George Mathew, RNZ Sigs.
Midi bugle by
Neville Young

home | honour roll | people | deployment | operations
stories | sitemap | links