16/282 Lance Corporal Whararua (Rau) Parata – NZ (Maori ) Pioneers Battalion

Whararua (Rau) Parata was born in Waikanae on 18th May 1886,[i] of Te Atiawa, Ngati Toa iwi,  Ngati Raukawa and
Pakeha descent[ii]  the son of Winara Parta and grandson of  Wi Parata. Wi Parata farmed in the Waikanae area and had served as a MP for Western Maori from 1871 to 1875.

In 1908 Rau married Rangihuna Ererua on the Chatham Island and the couple had a daughter born in 1908, Manu Rau Parata. Rangihuna Ererau died in 1912.[iii]

On 20th October 1914 Rau Parata enlisted for service in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). Rua’s military
papers note he was working and living in Waikanae and that his next of kin was his brother Tara Parata of Porirua.

16/282 Private Parata was sent the other 499 men who made up the 1st Maori Contingent to the Avondale Race Course
for training. Following training the 1st Maori Contingent was entrained to Wellington where the men were loaded on
HMNZ Transport Warrimoo leaving for Egypt on 14th February 1915.

The 1st Maori Contingent arrived in Egypt on 26th March 1915 and initially was engaged in training and as garrison
troops freeing up Pakeha troops for combat[iv]. Private Parata’s military papers note that on 30th June 1915 he was embarked for Dardanelles. The Maori Contingent landed at Anzac Cove on 3 July 1915, here they joined the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, who were being deployed as infantry on the peninsula.

Private Parata remained at ANZAC Cove through to the end of the campaign and then being evacuated first to Murdos
and then on 27th December 1915 he returned to Egypt.

As part of the reorganisation of the NZEF on 1st January 1916 Private Parata was allotted to the Auckland Infantry
Battalion. The effects of conditions at ANZAC Cove resulted in Private Parata being admitted to hospital on 7th January
1916 with Scabies. Following two weeks of treatment Private Parata was allocated first to the Wellington Infantry Battalion and then to the newly organised NZ Pioneers.  

Private Parata as part of the NZ Pioneers embarked, on 7th April 1916, for France and the Western Front. In France on
1st June 1916 Private Parata was admitted to hospital with a hernia and it was serious enough for him to be evacuated
to England. Private Parata returned to France on 20th October 1916.

Private Parata returned to his unit on 17th March 1917 and was promoted to Lance Corporal Parata on 24th March 1917.
Lance Corporal Parata was wounded on the 19th May 1917 as the New Zealand Division prepared for the Battle of Messines. There are no details of the wound but Lance Corporal Parata remained with his unit.

The winter of 1917 was very cold and wet, Lance Corporal Parata was admitted to hospital with Bronchial Pneumonia on 13th November 1917 and evacuated to hospital in England. It was not until 28th February 1918 that Lance Corporal Parata returned to France and his unit. On 10th March 1918 Lance Corporal Parata was granted leave and returned to England
but at the end of leave was again admitted to hospital and it was 20th May 1918 that he rejoined the Pioneer Battalion in France.

While Lance Corporal Parata was serving in France an application was made to the NZ Appeal Board reported on 15th August 1918[v]

A request was made for the return of Lance-Corporal Rau Parta, who has been on active service
for over three years. The application was made by his brother, who said it was desired that certain
land owned by the family should be leased, and Rau Parata’s presence in the Dominion was necessary
to enable that lease to be granted. The board reserved it’s decision.

Lance Corporal Parata remained in France and in the winter on 1918 influenza was a bigger enemy than the Germans. Lance Corporal Parata was admitted to hospital on 29th October 1918 with influenza. Lance Corporal Parata was
evacuated to England on 26th November 1918 and admitted to the No 1 NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst on
13th December 1918. Lance Corporal Parata was fit enough by 3rd January 1919 to be discharged to the NZ Army depot
at Codford where he waited for repatriation to New Zealand.

On 28th February 1919 Lance Corporal Parata along with the majority of the NZ (Maori) Pioneers Battalion boarded the
SS Westmoreland for New Zealand. Over 1000 men who made up the Battalion were only one of two formation who
made up the NZEF to return to New Zealand as a complete unit.[vi]  The Westmoreland arrived in Auckland on
5th April 1919 and once the official welcomes were completed the various sections returned to their homes.

Lance Corporal Parata was granted a month’s leave and on 4th May 1919 he was discharged ‘on termination of his period of engagement. Lance Corporal Parata had served in the NZEF for 4 years and 52 days.

Rau Parata indicated he was returning to Waikanae but he may have gone to Takapuwahia Marae to live with
his brother Tara.

Rau Parata married on 12th November 1919 Herani Pene, the groom was supported by his brother Tara and his
cousin Taku Katene.[vii]

​Taku Katene (left) Tara Parata (centre) Rau Parata
Whararua (Rau) Parata died in Porirua on 5th December 1933 his death was reported to the Defence Department by his widow Mrs Herani Wi Neera. Whararau is buried in the Takapua Maori Cemetry, Porirua.

Like many servicemen from both WW1 and WW2 the stress of constant military of service lead to their early deaths.

While Rau and Taku had been discharged from the army the wedding took place one day after the celebration of Armistice Day when both veterans would have worn their old uniforms. Both also are wearing the 1914-1915 Star ribbon.
16/623  Lance Corporal Taku Katene - NZ (Maori) Pioneer Battalion

Haere Ki O Koutou Tipuna  : Te Ao Hou (The new world)
NZ History: Maori in the NZEF
Paperspast online
NZ History Online

1st Maori Contingent board the Warrimoo loading at Wellington: Alexander Turnbull
Rau Parta’s wedding day: Pataka Museum

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: Lance Corporal Rau Parata
[ii] Wiremu Te Kākākura Parata aka Wi Parata: Wikipedia
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: Lance Corporal Rau Parata
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: lance Corporal Rau Parata
[v] Military Appeals, 15th August 1918, Evening Post
[vi] NZ (Maori) Pioneer Battalion returns from War: NZ History Online
[vii] Pataka Museum​​
HMNZT Warrimoo Wellington Harbour 14th February 1915