16/1228 Private Frank William Tararo  –  NZ  Pioneer  Battalion. 

Tutaka  Mataputa  Tararo[i] was born on 25th February 1895 on the island of Akatokamanava (Mauke), the son of
Tararo - Noovao.[ii]

William Henry Grove was a trader with wide business contacts and was involved in supplying goods to the Pacific and also importing fruit to New Zealand from the islands. While living in Rarotonga William Henry Grove and his family became
close friends with Tararo Noovao, Tutaka's father. When the Grove family returned to New Zealand Tutaka was given, as was custom, to the Grove family as their Tama Angai[iii] . Tutaka was brought up in Gardner Road, One Tree Hill, Auckland and was given the Papaa [iv] name of William Tararo. When William Tararo enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditonary Force (NZEF) he was given the Papaa name Frank[v].

 On the 15th June 1915 Frank was medically examined and declared fit. On the 21st October 1915 Frank signed his enlistment forms at the Narrow Neck Military Training Camp. 16/1228 Private Frank William Tararo is listed as a gardener working  for a Mr W. H. Grove of Gardner Road, Epsom and was living at that address.[vi]

Private Tararo entered the 1st Rarotongan Contingent of the 3rd Maori Reinforcements, also signing up on the 20th October 1915 were 50 men recruited from the Cook Islands. This 1st Rarotongan Contingent had been recruited, in part,
as reinforcements for the Maori Battalion. The Maori Battalion had suffered casualties during the Gallipoli Campaign including those during the August 1915, Battle of Chunuk Bair.

Included in the 1st Rarotongan Contingent were  other men from Mauke including,   16/1203 Private W Vavai
(Taverio Vavia Williams) [vii] the grand uncle of Tetuanui Haamarura'i (Nunu) Tararo. 

Rarotongan Contingent Narrow Neck Camp 

The 2nd (1916) and 3rd Rarotongan Contingent (1918)  only served in Egypt and Palestine, many of Frank's family served
in these contingents; 60691 Private Metua Amupoe, 60700 Private Keu William, 19266 Private Mana Samuel and
Privates Koria Samuel, Moeau Samuel and Vairakau Samuel. [viii]

While training at the Narrow Neck Military training camp Private Tararo was admitted to the camp hospital with severe
pain in his elbow. The admission did not impact on Private Tararo’s training and he left with the rest of the 3rd Maori

The 3rd Maori Reinforcements arrived in Egypt on the 15th March 1916 and were incorporated into the New Zealand Pioneers. The Pioneers were made up of men who had served at Gallipoli with the Otago Mounted Rifles and the NZ
Native Contingent (Maori).

In April 1916, Private Tararo, D Company, New Zealand Pioneers, was sent, along with the other Cook Island men to France. Concerns had been expressed about sending Pacific Islanders to a cold climate but the commander of the NZEF, General Godley, felt that with the onset of spring the weather would be warm enough.[ix]

It was particularly cold in France in the spring of 1916. The Pioneers moved to the front in May 1916 being among the first New Zealand units on the Somme. D Company was involved in sawmilling, concrete production and stocking of ammunition and stores. In August 1916 as the preparations for the NZ Division involvement on the Somme began, D Company and the other Pioneers started digging an 8 km communications trench ‘Turk Lane.’ Turk Lane was 2 meters
deep and gave troops that would take part in the 16th September 1916 attacks, a degree of shelter as they moved into the front lines. This work took a heavy toll on the Pioneers not only from German fire but also disease with mumps, measles and influenza impacting the majority of the pioneers. There were a number of deaths from pneumonia.

On the 15th September 1916 the New Zealand Division went 'over the top' for the first time. Initial success was replaced by the grind of battle required the Pioneers to repair captured  trenches and strongpoints and continue to repair and dig new trenches up to the advancing front line. 

On the 29th / 30th September 1916 the small 'Rarotonga' Company suffered a number
of casualties. Private Tararo told his family, in later life, that the company was under
shell fire [x]

' there were two other Cook Islands Maori soldiers that he served with. One was Apu
Raitia who was killed  during a shelling episode. Frank said he carried Apu Raitia back
to the trenches where he died in his arms from injuries to his head.'

16/1222 Private Apu Tepuretu (aka Raitia)[xi] was just 19 and is buried in the
Quarry Cemetery, Montauban

16/1222 Private Apu Tepuretu (aka Apu Raitia) grave in France 

The other Cook Islands Maori soldier Frank mentioned is 16/1206 Private Ataataiva
(aka Ata Ataiva )[xii]  from Mangaia who while running for cover from a bombardment had:

'called out, as Frank turned to see Apu fall,  Kimia mai na ou ora e Pe (save yourself my friend).
However Frank returned and carried him to safety.' 

On the same day Private Tararo's cousin 16/1203 Private Vavia ( aka Taverio Vavia Williams )
was mortally wounded. As recalled after the war by Frank:

'Vavia was right next to him in the trench . He had cautioned him earlier not to put
his head up because of German snipers. Vavia did not listen and was shot instantly
as he raised his head up to look over the trench wall.'

Private Vavia was taken to the advanced dressing station at Flatiron Copse where he
died on the 1st October 1916. Private Vavia William is buried in the Flatiron Copse[xiii].
Cemetery. [vii]

Grave - 16/1203 Private W Vavia - Flatiron Cemetery   

Major Buck the 2nd in Command of the NZ Pioneer Battalion noted in his diary  on the
30th September 1916 ‘ 

“All worked well, especially the Rarotongans. These men suffered several
casualties during the month.‘ [xiv]

Frank also recounted to his family being wounded later in the battle and that:  

'He had lain in the trenches along with others that were wounded for many days without aid. Exploding
shrapnel had shredded his lower arm and hand. He firmly believed the cold wintery conditions prevented the
fast spread of infection and gangrene from his wounds. He said that when help did arrive they were surprised to 
find that he and others were still alive.'

By mid October the New Zealand Division had withdrawn from the Somme sector  and been moved to Sailly, north of
Paris. On the 29th October 1916 Private Tararo was sent by the 3rd NZ Field Ambulance to the 2nd Advance Casualty
Clearing Station. Private Tararo’s military files simply note:   ‘I.C.T left elbow.’ 

On the 3rd November 1916 Private Tararo was moved to the No 14 General Hospital and then on the 8th November 1916 evacuated to England to the No 2 NZ General Hospital at Walton on Thames. The medical report written when
Private Tararo was admitted notes:[xv]

11th Nov  Admitted from 14th General Hospital, Boulogne complaining pain and swelling of left upper arm.
Round immobile mass around upper part of shaft of bone. Severe pain and unable to use arm. X-ray dense
mass with fluffy edges probably sarcomatomus. [xiii]
14th Nov Portion of bone growth removed under anaesthetic and examined by Dr Leatham. Operation same
day amputation at shoulder.
30th Nov to be boarded for NZ – J. W.  Duncan Capt. N.Z.M.C. 

Private Tararo then spent time in Queen Alexandra’s, Rochampton before being sent to the NZ Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch where they decided that he did not need an artificial arm and that the stump was clean and healing well. Private Tararo then moved to Discharge Depot , Torquay prior to being shipped back to New Zealand.

On HMNZHS Marama  a board of enquiry determined that the loss of the arm occurred while serving in the NZEF and
Frank would be entitled to a war pension.

On arrival in New Zealand Frank was discharged. on the 5th October 1917, from the NZEF as ‘no longer physically fit for
war service on account of illness contracted on active service.’  Frank returned to private life indicating that he was going
to live with the Grove family. 

In 1924 William Grove died and about the same time Frank received word from Mauke that his family wanted him to
return to the island. In August 1925, in Mauke, Frank signed for his two decorations. The British War and Victory medals.

Frank William Tararo married, as was the custom, Rina Hampoi, the widow of his older brother raising his brother’s four children and the three sons Rina and Frank had, their fourth child a daughter, Vavia, died as an infant. Frank adjusted well to the loss of his arm and was physically fit coping both the planting on the land and fishing. So fit in fact that ‘outsiders’ complained about Frank receiving a war pension, which was consequently removed. After the army investigated and intervened the pension reinstated.[xvi]

Frank William  and Rina Tararo with two of their sons
left Tengaepu O Te Rangi (Epu) and right Tangata Kimiora (Ta)
at the Ngati Tararo Paepae Kainga, Mauke (1953) 

Frank's eldest son Tengaepu O Te Rangi (Epu) Tararo moved to New Zealand in December 1960. Tengaepu O Te Rangi (Epu) and Tetuanui Haamarura'i (Nunu) Tararo and their children now live in Porirua. 

In March 1967 Frank returned to New Zealand this time to bring his granddaughter Te-Tui-O-Te-Ra (Tui) to her parents Epu and Nunu, Frank's wife Rina had passed away. Frank would stay in New Zealand for two years and his family recount.[xvii]

'often meeting up with old and new friends from the war or NZ Armed forces at the RSA's and bars that they frequented in Wellington and Porirua,  and Frank told his family on ANZAC Days ' I never have to buy my drinks.'

Frank returned to Mauke in 1969 dying on the island on the 5th August
1973 and is buried in the Rangituarua Cemetery, Akatokamanava (Mauke),
Kuki Airani (Cook Islands) 

Grave of 16/1228 Private Frank William Tararo  
NZ  Pioneer  Battalion. 

Of the Mauke men who served in France with the NZ Pioneer Battalion,
only Frank returned to the island.

Frank said that:[xviii]

‘ No whole man returned to Mauke.’

Like many war veterans Frank rarely talked about his experiences in France his family recalls: 

Our grandfather rarely spoke about his time during the war to his family,
friends or even to us his grandchildren. 
Our father (Epu) said he would often become quite and withdrawn when
asked about his time during the war or  if he hears others talk about it. 
He often said, it brought back traumatic memories that he would rather
forget but couldn’t.   Every time it was mentioned he would relive all over
again those horrific conditions, wastefulness of lives lost during the war.  
He could see it clearly in his mind like it was just yesterday the sounds, taste
and smell of  the trenches, where they lived, slept and ate in muddy, cold
cramp conditions amongst the wounded, dead and decaying bodies of their friends and family.   After returning from the war our grandfather drank a lot, understandably, this may have been his way of coping with all those things he had experienced during the war, 'including ongoing pain in his shoulder as result of losing an arm in the war.'

16/1228 Private Frank William Tararo  –  NZ  Pioneer  Battalion

Story prepared in conjunction with Tengaepu O Te Rangi (Epu) and Tetuanui Haamarura'i (Nunu) Tararo
and their children Epu jnr, Tui and Dorothy. ​​

Cook Island Maori 
Te Ipu Karea,  'Homeland'
Te Kuki Airani (Cook Islands)
Tupuna (older family member/ancestor)
Tararo Noovao (Paramount King and Chief of Mauke)
Ngati Tararo (family / tribal affiliation)
Ngati Tararo Paepae Kainga (ancestral residential site for Tararo of Mauke)
The names of some of the Cook Island Maori soldiers enlisted under are not the names they are known by their families They often enlisted using a given name or a name they had adopted while living in another area. It was a common practice and one person can be known by many names given to them by different family of freinds in rememberance of close family who have passed away, an event, marriage, friendship, illness. This was the case for Nunu's uncle Tetuanui Haamaruraii (Manu William) the brother of Vavia and Keu Willian and of her great uncles Koria Samuel, Moeau Samuel and Vairakau Samuel and the brothers of Mataputa and Mana Samuel. 
(Very confusing for a Papaa -  Ed) 
As the Cook Island soldiers, as was customary, can be known by many names both the NZEF enlisted name(s) have been used and where know the alternative names.
Thank you to the Tararo family for the photos and anecdotal family history , for Epu(jnr) suggesting the story be written, Dorothy for organising and Tui for advice and guidance.

Oral family history of Tengaepu O Te Rangi (Epu) and Tetuanui Haamarura'i (Nunu) Tararo
Online Paperspast
NZ History Online
The Maori in the Great War: NZ Electronic Test Collection
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1228 Private Frank William Tararo 
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1222 Private  Apu Tepuretu  
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1203 Private W Vavia 
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1206 Private Ataataiva

Rarotongans at Narrow Neck – Alexander Turnbull
Private W Vavia's  grave - New Zealand Wargraves Project
Private Apu Tepuretu grave - New Zealand Wargraves Project
Frank William and Rina with two of their sons - Tararo family
Frank William Tararo's grave - Tararo family
Private Frank William Tararo - Tararo family 
Maori Reinforcements embarking at Auckland – NZ History online (background) 

[i] Oral history Tararo family and Mauke land records.Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1228 Private Frank William Tararo
[ii] Tararo - Noovao :- Paramount King and Chief of Mauke  
[iii] Tama Angai,(feeding child) :- is the custom of giving a child into the care of relatives and in some instances, to close family friends.
[iv] Papaa:- terms used in the Cook Islands for Europeans
[v] Oral history Tararo family 
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1228 Private Frank William Tararo
[vii] 16/1203   W Vavia  (aka Taverio Vavia Williams) is the Great Uncle of Tetuanui Haamarura'i (Nunu) Tararo who married Frank’s son Tengaepu O Te Rangi (Epu)  oral history Tararo & Williams' families
[viii] Oral history Tararo / William's families: The Cook Island soldiers, as was customary, can be known by many different names given to them by different family or friends. 
[ix] Pacific Islanders in the NZEF – NZ History Online
[x]  Oral history related by Frank William Tararo to his family 
[xi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1222 ApuTepuretu aka Apu Raitia
[xii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1206 Private Ataataiva (aka Ata Ataiva )
[xiii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/1203 Private W Vavia  aka  Taverio Vavia Williams
[xiv The Maori in the Great War: NZ Electronic Test Collection
[xv] Sarcomatomus – in this case bone cancer
[xvi] Tararo Oral history
[xvii] Tararo Oral history
[xviii] Tararo Oral History 

​  Dedication to Frank William Tararo 
Maori Reinforcements board their transport at Auckland