Sir Apirana Ngata’s 1943 celebrated work 'The Price of Citizenship' was a memorial to Lieutenant Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu. In this short paper Ngata argued that Māori support of the war effort was the ultimate way to honour the Treaty and gain equality with, and the respect of, Pākehā.
Ngata, A. T. The Price of Citizenship: Ngarimu V.C. Wellington: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1943.
Sir Āpirana Ngata (1874-1950; Ngāti Porou) saw the creation of the Māori Battalion as an important way of attaining equality in the future. The Third Article of the Treaty of Waitangi granted Māori the full rights of British citizens and Ngata saw that fighting in the war could be seen as respecting this. Also, Ngata saw participation in the war effort as a prerequisite to being able to have a say in how the future of the country could be shaped following the war. Many Māori were quick to answer the call to arms when war broke out in 1939 and as a response to calls from Ngata and the other Māori MPs for an all-Māori unit, the government agreed to the formation of the 28th Māori Battalion.
In Ngata’s 1943 treatise The Price of Citizenship, he asked “whether the civilians of New Zealand, men, and women, fully realised the implications of the joint participation of Pākehā and Māori in this last demonstration of the highest citizenship?’
The story of the 28th Māori Battalion is therefore intrinsically linked with the aspirations of Māori leaders such as Ngata, who believed that volunteering for the war would show Pākehā countrymen they were equals and that such a sacrifice would be rewarded once the fighting was over. Ngata wrote "We will lose some of our most promising young leaders…but we will gain the respect of our Pākehā brothers and the future of our race as a component and respected part of the New Zealand people will be less precarious." These losses Ngata reasoned, was the price of citizenship.
This publication is part of the series Te Takarangi: Celebrating Māori publications - a sample list of 150 non-fiction books produced by a partnership between Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.