Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Manahi Sword returned to Rotorua iwi

A symbol of an enduring and important relationship between the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Te Arawa iwi has been acknowledged in a ceremony in Rotorua.

The Te Arawa Sword of Gallantry for Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi, known as the Manahi Sword, is traditionally given by the iwi to the Chief of Defence Force at the start of their time in office and is returned to the iwi when they relinquish command.

The sword honours Lance Sergeant Manahi, DCM, who distinguished himself in the Second World War through exemplary conduct in storming the stronghold of Takrouna, in Tunisia, during the later stages of the North Africa campaign. 

On Friday, the sword was presented back to his iwi at Te Papaiouru Marae, in Ōhinemutu, by outgoing Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short, before being presented to his incoming replacement, Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies.

“I feel incredibly honoured to become the caretaker of this very precious piece of military history, which is also a symbol of enduring respect and close relationships,” said Air Vice-Marshal Davies.

“The Manahi Sword will serve to ground me in my new role as steward of the Defence Force, and the great responsibility I have to the people who serve within our ranks.”

Outgoing Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Short said while the sword had sat in pride of place in his Wellington office during his tenure, he had also taken the opportunity to wear the sword in moments of great importance.

“It was my honour to be a kaitiaki of this taonga, and the very special bond that it signifies between the NZDF and Te Arawa,” he said.

“The Manahi Sword served as a daily reminder to me that with leadership comes great responsibility, as seen through the example of Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi.

“I was very proud to wear the sword on a number of special occasions, including events such as royal visits.”

The sword was handed back to Te Arawa in the presence of Lance Sergeant Manahi’s descendants, following a pōwhiri at Tamatekapua meeting house.

Also during the ceremony, the outgoing Warrant Officer of the Defence Force, Warrant Officer Class 1 Mark ‘Titch’ Mortiboy, handed back a carved patuki, which was then presented to his replacement, Warrant Officer Class 1 Wiremu Moffitt.

Before the ceremony, the NZDF delegation visited the soldiers’ cemetery at Muruika Urupā, and the gravesite of Lance Sergeant Manahi. 

Incoming Chief of Defence Force, Air Vice-Marshal Davies, will wear the Manahi Sword formally for the first time at a Change of Command Ceremony on Thursday 6 June, at Government House in Wellington.

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