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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Historian attacks effort on medal upgrade quest

The author on a book on Haane Manahi has claimed Labour leader Phil Goff soft-pedalled an attempt to get a posthumous Victoria Cross for the Maori Battalion hero.

AUT history professor Paul Moon says as defence minister, Mr Goff was part of a delegation which went to Buckingham Palace in 2006 to ask for the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to Sergeant Manahi for bravery at Takrouna Ridge in Tunisia in 1943 to be upgraded to the top award for gallantry.

He says after the delegation made its case, Mr Goff held a private meeting with the Queen's private secretary ... and the outcome was not the VC but a package of symbolic gifts for Sergeant Manahi's Te Arawa iwi.

“I think the general feeling seems to be that if Mr Goff had been more determined and happier to stand his ground, then there may have been a better outcome, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case, so really what’s needed is a minister who is prepared to stand his or her ground and make that recommendation,” Dr Moon says.

He says Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples should go off to London and have another go at getting the medal upgraded.


But the secretary of the Haane Manahi VC Committee says Phil Goff did a superb job advocating the New Zealand Government position, and the outcome was unique and very special.

Rolly Rolston, who is also secretary of the Rotorua RSA, says the matter has been settled once and for all by the Queen's gift to Te Arawa of a personal acknowledgement of Haani Manahi's bravery, a sword which is on permanent loan from the tribe to the chief of defence, and an altar cloth for St Faith's Church in Ohinemutu, near Sergeant Manahi's burial place.

“It's something you would not expect to happen. You would expect them to come back and say ‘No, end of story.’ The Queen realized she would be unable to go up against her father’s command that there be no more medallic recognition for World War 2, which he did five years after the end of the war, and to do this was just out of the square, it was unbelievable that a lady in her position would do that,” Mr Rolston says.

He says Paul Moon was ill-informed, and he failed to interview any serving members of the Haane Manahi committee for his book.


Maori kiwifruit growers in the Bay of Plenty are welcoming the government's $50 million assistance package to help the industry fight the PSA outbreak.

Hemi Rolleston, the chief executive of Te Awanui Huka Pak, says no Maori growers are among the 60 whose orchards have tested positive to the vine killing bacteria since it was first detected two weeks ago.

Mr Rolleston says Maori growers supply about 10 percent of kiwifruit, and they are concerned because the infestation is an industry-wide issue.


Labour leader Phil Goff says the suggestion that he traded off a Victoria Cross for dead Maori Battalion hero Haane Manahi for one for living SAS hero Willie Apiata is deeply insulting and just plain wrong.

In a new book about Sergeant Manahi's actions at the battle of Takrouna Ridge in Tunisia in 1943, AUT history professor Paul Moon claims that Mr Goff presented a weak case when he went to Buckingham Palace with representatives of the Haane Manahi VC Committee in 2006 to push for the medal upgrade.

Mr Goff says he then had a separate meeting with the queen's private secretary to confirm that Willie Apiata's action in Afghanistan met the Commonwealth standard for the awarding a Victoria Cross.

“There was no trade-off. There could never have been a trade-off, and I’m deeply insulted at the inference he makes that I made any such trade-off. He could easily have checked with me. He never bothered, despite my invitation to him that I was available to talk at any length abut what we did in London to try to get justice for Haane Manahi,” he says.

Mr Goff says while the Queen confirmed her longstanding policy to abide by her father's 1949 decision to close the list of medals for World War 2, her award to Te Arawa of a sword, an altar cloth and a letter acknowledging Sergeant Manahi's bravery was unique and special.


National's Mana byelection candidate, Hekia Parata, is rejecting claims she ran a wedge campaign aimed at deceiving Maori.

Labour president Andrew Little told the Wellington newspaper that he was satisfied Chris Fa'afoi's 1080-vote win in light of National's strategy of telling Maori that Labour cared only about Pacific voters.

Ms Parata says that's nonsense.

“I went after absolutely every vote I can get and will be doing so again. I think Tariana Turia said on TV3’s The Nation that she endorsed both Matt McCarten and me so in terms of there being something overtly Maori, that was the extent of it," Ms Parata says.


The new Minister of Womens Affairs says she's comfortable taking on challenging portfolios, as long as it's good for the party.

Georgine Te Heuheu from Ngati Tuwharetoa picked up the job after the resignation of Pansy Wong, adding it to her existing ministerial responsibilities for Courts and Pacific Island Affairs.

The ACT Party called for the ministry to be scrapped, but Mrs Te Heuheu says there is clear evidence that women are still being denied equality in the workplace both in pay rates and in the number appointed to senior management and governance roles.

“You have to work away at it. You have to provide good advocacy, otherwise people will ignore you. And it’s the same principle as across Maori affairs, Pacific Island affairs, ethnic affairs and women’s affairs. Now overall, over the last 20 years, there have been improvements across all those but there are still challenges, absolutely,” Mrs Te Heuheu says.


Blogger Dr. Paul Moon said...

Phil Goff's comments about me and my biography on Haane Manahi make for odd reading.
He says he is "deeply insulted at the inference" I allegedly make that a deal was made between him and Buckingham Palace which resulted in Manahi not being awarded the VC. No such inference (I think he means implication) was made. Pity Goff didn't read the book before becoming “deeply insulted”.
Goff goes on to say that I could have easily checked this with him but “never bothered”, despite his alleged “”invitation to me that he “was available to talk at any length about what we did in London to try to get justice for Haane Manahi”.
Let’s get a few things straightened out here with Goff’s account. First, he never issued any invitation to me. Second, I made a number of attempts over several months to arrange a meeting with Goff. My requests were either ignored by his office, or responded to with general assurances that his staff will get back to me, which they did not. After several luckless attempts, it became clear to me that Goff had no intention of responding to my requests for an interview.
I am happy to refer to the email exchange to nudge Goff’s memory if necessary.

Dr. Paul Moon

11:14 pm  

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