19927 Corporal Hari Wi Katene –  NZ Pioneer (Maori) Battalion  

Of Ngati Toa descent Hari Wi Katene was born on 15th October 1886[i] in Motueka, Nelson, the son of Wiremu and
Hareti / Karani Katene[ii]. Hari was one of the older children in their family of thirteen.

On the 16th November 1899 Hareti died, possibly from complication after the birth of the couple’s youngest daughter, Huria Ngarongoa Katene. The family was split up with some going with Wiremu, other to whanau and the youngest
three; Frederick, Manu and Huria Ngarongoa Katene to the Anglican orphanage in Motueka[iii].  As Hari was 13 it is probable that he went to live with his father.

Hari married Te Amohau Rei they had three children[iv] with one son, Tarawara Hari Katene born on 21st December 1909[v]. Te Amohau and two sons of their sons had died prior to Hari remarrying in 1911, Isabel Campbell. The wedding was registered in Wellington where their only child, a daughter Hera, was born on 10th May 1912.

Hari and Isabel and the two children had moved to Auckland prior to late 1916 as Hari’s younger brother Manu used
Hari as a next of kin when Manu enlisted on 21st October 1916.

On 14th May 1917 Hari entered military camp as part of Maori Reinforcements. 19927 Private Katene’s military papers
list him as a married man with two children living at 60 Wanganui Avenue, Ponsonby, Auckland and employed as a
Civil Servant (Interpreter) for Judge Holland of the Native Land Court.

Private Katene was sent to Trentham, Wellington and on 20th June 1917 was promoted to Corporal Katene.
Corporal Katene was transferred first to the 35th Reinforcements and later to the NCO training school at the Narrow Neck Military Camp. Corporal Katene was promoted to Sergeant Katene on 28th February 1918; on 2nd March 1918 Sergeant Katene sailed with 27th Maori Reinforcements.

The 27th Maori Reinforcements arrive in Egypt on 8th April 1918 and remained for a month before being shipped to England arriving on 30th April 1918. The standard procedure was for NCO’s of newly arriving reinforcement to revert to
the ranks and Sergeant Katene reverted to Temporary (T) Corporal on 15th May 1918 while at Sling Military Camp. T/Corporal Katene was on 21st June 1918 confirmed as a Corporal.

Corporal Katene was sent to No 1 NZ General Hospital for three weeks prior to being posted to the training camp at
Shirley and attached to the NZ Entrenching Battalion. Corporal Katene was still with the NZ Entrenching Battalion when
the Armistice was signed so remained in England waiting for repatriation.

Corporal Katene left Liverpool on 28th February 1919 on the
Westmoreland with other members of the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion
including two of his brothers, 16/635 Lance Corporal Taku Katene
and 37771 Private Joe Bird Cotton (Manu Katene).  Corporal Katene
arrived back in New Zealand on 6th April 1919 and following a
month’s leave was discharged  ‘on termination of his period of

The three returning brothers Taku (left) Manu and Hari (right)

Hari’s initial discharge was back to Ponsonby but by 1921 his medals
were sent to him c/- The Native Land Court, Wellington.
Hari remained in the Wellington area being involved in a number of
Land Court cases.

Hari Wi Katene died on 20th July 1946[vi].

Manu Katene enlisted as Joe Bird Cotton as listed Harry Cotton,
NZ Native Court Auckland as his Next of Kin.

The five Katene brothers who served in World War One
37771 Private Joe Bird Cotton,
19927 Corporal Hari Wi Katene,
16/636 Lance Corporal Rangi Wi Katene
16/635 Private Taku Katene
16/792 Private Frederick Bennett Wi Katene

Paperspast Online
Oral History Katene whanau
Archway Archives New Zealand

Taku, Manu and Hari Katene on their return to New Zealand in 1919: Pataka Museum

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military files: 19927 Corporal Hari Wi Katene
[ii] NZ BDM
[iii] Uncle Fred’s Vision for Ngati Poneke,  
[iv] Oral history Katene Whanau
[v] Archway Archives New Zealand Military files: 19927 Corporal Hari Wi Katene
[vi] NZ BDM
Three Katene Brothers returned 1919