Ngarimu Street was named on 20 July, 1961 after Victoria Cross (VC) Winner Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu.
Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu
Ngārimu was the first Māori soldier to win the Victoria Cross (VC).
Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu hailed from the East Coast, of Ngāti Porou and Te-Whanau-a-Apanui descent. He was born on 7 April 1918 in Whareponga, the son of Hamuera Meketu Ngarimu, and his wife Maraea. He attended Te Aute College in Hawke’s Bay for two years before working on the family farm.
He served in the 28th Māori Battalion during World War II, and was initially chosen for intelligence duties. He later became a second lieutenant and a platoon leader in the Battalion’s C Company.
He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage and leadership during that battle for Point 209 and buried in Tunisia. A few weeks before he was killed he had written to his parents that he had dreamed of his great grandmother Hana Maraea. She was beckoning to him in the dream.
His VC was presented to his parents by the governor general, Sir Cyril Newall, at a hui at Ruatoria on 6 October 1943 attended by government leaders, diplomatic representatives and 7,000 Maori. The occasion was recorded by the National Film Unit and the films shown to Māori Battalion soldiers in Italy. His grandmother, Makere Ngarimu, died the night his Victoria Cross was presented.
Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu is also commemorated by scholarships set up to commemorate his bravery and that of others lost from the Maori Battalion. “In June 1943, soon after Ngārimu had been killed in action, a gathering of Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau ā Apanui and Pākehā East Coast people took place to consider how to best commemorate the bravery of Ngārimu, and the other members of the 28th Battalion, whose lives had been lost in World War Two. It was decided to establish a scholarship fund to support Māori education.”
There are five Ngārimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarships: three undergraduate scholarships, one Masters award and one doctoral scholarship.
Ngarimu Street was named on 20 July, 1961. While the Council minutes do not show the discussion or reasons, there is a high degree of confidence that this street was named after Victoria Cross (VC) Winner Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu. Four months later, adjoining roads were renamed after VC winners Charles Upham, Keith Elliott and James Crichton.
Excerpt from Council minute book 23 November 1961
“During the attack at Tebaga Gap in Tunisia on 26 March 1943, Second Lieutenant Ngārimu commanded a platoon. He was first to reach the crest of the hill and himself destroyed two enemy machine-gun posts.
The enemy counter-attacked, and in the course of hand-to-hand fighting, Lieutenant Ngārimu was twice wounded (once by rifle fire in the shoulder and later by shrapnel in the leg and urged by both his Company Commander and Battalion Commander to go out of the line), but he refused to leave his post.
During the night the enemy succeeded in piercing the line; Lieutenant Ngārimu ran to the spot, killed some and drove back the rest with his tommy-gun and with stones, and led his men back to their old position. In the morning, he was killed while defying a further counter-attack.”