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  • Writer's pictureTE RĀKAU

'A damn good yarn' – The Battalion

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Te Ahi Kaa, Radio New Zealand | 26 April 2015

Radio New Zealand interviews Director Jim Moriarty about the origins of the iconic play, The Battalion.


Four young me in black shirts and shorts stand to attention, serious looks on their faces
Jim says The Battalion pays tribute to WWII's Māori Battalion | Mark Coote 2022

"The genesis of this story comes from when Helen and I were in Greece. We were up there doing a play, and we were staying out there in the countryside with all these goat herders," Jim tells RNZ.

"We were going back along the cobbled streets in Delphi, and I saw this old chap riding a donkey. The street was pretty steep, so he had gotten off the donkey and was giving it a tap on the backside to try and get it going.

"Being a polite Māori here, Ngāti Toa, I went up and said 'Excuse me, sir, do you think I can take a picture?'

"He asked me 'You're a Kiwi?' and I said 'Yeah.' And he told me 'You can take many pictures.' He rolled up his shirt sleeve and tattooed on his forearm was an insignia of the Māori Battalion. He would have been 87 at the time.

"That's part of one of the many stories inside this one; a young Māori man who was left for dead, and who spent the rest of his life in another country."

Listen to the full interview on Radio New Zealand.

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